Emily Land, 21, didn’t hesitate to get checked by her GP after she noticed bruises all over her body. One morning, she went for a blood test and then went about her day as usual. However, everything changed around 5pm the same day when she was asked to come back to the hospital, where she had more tests that revealed the shocking cancer diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia.
According to the NHS, leukaemia describes cancer of the white blood cells while acute leukaemia means it progresses “quickly and aggressively”.
The first warning sign that rang alarm bells for the 21-year-old were bruises on her legs, arms and hands that appeared in October 2021.
The health service explains that easily bruised skin is one of the tell-tale signs of this blood cancer.
Your skin can also appear pale or “washed out” or show flat red or purple spots.
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Other signs like tiredness, breathlessness, frequent infections, fever and night sweats can also occur.
Emily went to see her GP, who sent her to St James’ Hospital in Leeds, West Yorkshire, for a blood test.
The student said: “I went one morning for the blood test, came home and went about my day.
“Around 5pm, I got a call from the hospital, telling me that I needed to go in for more blood tests.
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“I didn’t think anything of it but by the next day we knew I was diagnosed and in for a month.”
“I was in shock when I was told I had cancer, I didn’t realise what I was being told.
“It was a case of being shown a room and saying, ‘Here is your room for the night you are staying in’.”
Emily’s mum, Kirstie Plenderleith, 53, shared this “horrific” news made her “whole world” fall apart.
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Three days later, Emily underwent her first round of chemotherapy and was eventually given the all-clear in July 2022 after four rounds of this treatment.
Unfortunately, her leukaemia had returned In August 2022 and she needed to have a bone marrow transplant.
Emily was placed on the Anthony Nolan transplant register, which makes life-saving connections between people with blood cancer and strangers ready to donate their stem cells.
The 21-year-old explained that the relapse was “a lot more to take in”. She also caught pneumonia twice and developed sepsis three times during this time.
Emily was waiting for a transplant for three months before her mum Kirstie got a call in November 2022, telling her that they had found a match in the Netherlands.
Emily went into the hospital on December 8 and received her transplant on December 16 and 17.
The transplant took place over two days and involved a transfusion, where her damaged blood cells were replaced with healthy ones.
The 21-year-old said: “The recovery was tough, that was the hardest thing.
“I had restarted the gym, I had been walking and for me to not even be able to have a shower or walk to the bathroom without being out of breath or needing help was frustrating.”
Emily is now on the road to recovery and said she wouldn’t have got through it without her mum by her side.
She added: “When I got told I had relapsed it was worse because I didn’t know what to expect with the transplant. It didn’t feel real at all.
“Now I am cancer-free, I am going to counselling to overcome what I have been through. There is a lot of trauma.”
Emily explained she would now love to meet up with the woman who saved her life.
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