Lisa Milsom

At 44 years old, Lisa was living on a high after getting married on a cruise. However, when she began to feel fatigued and had been finding bruising with no explanation, she knew something wasn’t quite right. Here, she tells her Spot Leukaemia story…

“On 1st April 2014, I got married whilst on a world cruise. I didn’t really feel ill at the time, but I kept noticing unexplained bruising, and found I was bruising really easily if I knocked myself.

We got back in mid-April and I felt tired and had little energy. It then started with a pain in my back, but I thought I had pulled a muscle. This went on for about a week, so I booked in to see my GP. She initially thought it could be pleurisy or maybe a blood clot, so I was given some antibiotics and painkillers.

A few days later, I woke up in the morning and struggled to get out of bed, so I phoned the emergency doctors and was told to go straight to A&E. However, I told them I couldn’t go because I was caring for my mum who has dementia. I also had no way of getting to the hospital, so he told me to phone an ambulance which I didn’t do because I didn’t realise how poorly I was. I got a taxi to the hospital, and they sent me for a chest x-ray. That’s when things started to move. I was diagnosed with severe pneumonia, but they were concerned about my bloods. So, they tested me for HIV and did a bone marrow test but didn’t tell me why. They put me into a single room because my immune system was so low.

A lovely consultant came in and told me he had my results. He asked if I wanted to call my husband Steve to come (he is a nurse in the hospital), but because I didn’t know what they were testing for, I said that it would be fine as I knew he had been on nights and wanted to be in bed.

They told me I had leukaemia. They weren’t sure what type, but they started me on treatment that day so we could make a plan a few days later. It was such a shock; I asked the nurse to phone Steve and the consultant waited with me until he got to hospital, where everything was explained to him.

The Monday morning came, and I was told it was acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) and I started chemotherapy the day after. I was in hospital for two and a half months because I was ill with pneumonia. I was really poorly and the chemotherapy gave me bad mouth ulcers. For the first time in my life, I was told I had to eat and put some weight on!

Once home, I was still trying to care for my mum, whilst hiding how poorly I was because she was so ill, and I didn’t want her worrying. She had fantastic carers that helped me and I had amazing friends that got me through the dark days.

I had another stay in the hospital for round three of chemotherapy. I had six blood transfusions and four platelet transfusions. I finished chemotherapy on 30th September, and on the 21st of October, I got the amazing news I was in total remission. I have now been in remission for eight years!

Spot Leukaemia is very important. I thought leukaemia was a children’s illness, so I never for one minute thought it would be something I would get. That’s why it is incredibly important to raise more awareness.”

Lisa’s symptoms of leukaemia were:

  • Bruising
  • Fatigue

Are you currently dealing with similar symptoms to Lisa’s? If so, contact your GP and ask for a blood test.

For more information on our Spot Leukaemia campaign, our goal and how to get involved, head over to our official Spot Leukaemia website at www.spotleukaemia.org.uk

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