Jasmine Barnett

Jasmine was training for the London Marathon when she began feeling more tired than expected. She visited her GP a few times, but her symptoms were brushed off and an abnormal blood test result wasn’t followed up on. Eventually, after months of symptoms, Jasmine was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL). Here, she recounts her Spot Leukaemia story.

I was feeling tired a lot in November 2018. I’d started training for the London Marathon and thought I might have been slightly anaemic, so I had a blood test. When I called for the results the receptionist said that some levels were low, and I needed to have another test three weeks later. However, I didn’t go back as I thought if I upped my iron intake, I’d be fine.

Over Christmas, I had a sore ankle, so I saw a different doctor who prescribed rest. Throughout January I continued running and had flu-like symptoms which gradually got worse. I was also experiencing bruising, bleeding gums, nose bleeds and night sweats. By February 6th 2019, I rang my doctors and they took my bloods again.

I then rang NHS 111 around 5am with the above symptoms. By the time I got a call back from a doctor, my own GP surgery had opened, so they told me I needed to be seen within an hour and to give them a call. I rang the surgery and they couldn’t see me until 11:30am. When I got there, I think the doctor knew straightaway as he didn’t even send me to the nurse for my bloods; instead, he did it there and then in the room. He prescribed some strong antibiotics and told me to go home and rest. He then rang me at 6pm to say he was sorry to tell me I had leukaemia and I needed to go to hospital straightaway.

I had six months of intense treatment for acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) which included four separate rounds of chemotherapy, the first of which was done whilst I spent an entire month as a patient in hospital. Throughout my induction chemotherapy, I spent four weeks as an inpatient at Pinderfields Hospital on Ward 21. I was in isolation and wasn’t able to leave my room; I barely saw my two boys due to the infection risk, and I encountered numerous problems, including ATRA syndrome, large blood clots (and as a result I had to administer daily blood thinning injections), infections that were difficult to get on top of and hair loss. Going through this with two young children was very hard, my boys being just two and five years old when I was diagnosed.

I was also self-employed when I was diagnosed, and my income dropped to zero. Fortunately, a family friend set up a JustGiving page which helped us get by whilst I went through all of my treatment. I went back to work a few months after completing treatment, only to have to pack in work again in March 2020 due to shielding guidance. Through lockdown I wanted a project to keep me occupied, so I wrote about some of my experiences and created a website called lifeafterbloodcancer.com which I hope will be helpful for those going through a similar situation to me.

I’m now approaching 15 months in remission. I will be running the virtual London Marathon this year after deferring last year, with funds raised going to Leukaemia Care. My husband is also doing it for Leukaemia Care after getting a last-minute charity spot! We will be in Devon on holiday so we’re going to do our 26.2 miles on the Sunday whilst there!

Spot Leukaemia is so important as, even though I had every single symptom, I didn’t think it could be leukaemia. More people need to be aware of the symptoms for early diagnosis, which will effectively save more lives.

Listen to Jasmine’s mom Karen in the video below as she discusses her own experience of Jasmine’s symptoms and diagnosis.

Appearance

Following a blood cancer diagnosis, you will have many questions. Some of these may relate to changes to your appearance during cancer treatment.

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