Michelle Saxby

Michelle Saxby’s symptoms began with recurring sore throats, but her diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia only came after weeks of GP visits and antibiotics. Here, she shares her story for our Spot Leukaemia campaign.

The sore throats started at the beginning of 2006 and I visited the doctors on several occasions. I went away with antibiotics but days after finishing the course the infection would return.

After suffering continued sore throats for a few weeks, I was hoovering up at home one day and felt incredibly ill and had to stop and sit down. I had a gut feeling something wasn’t quite right, and I soon developed a very swollen gland on the right side of my neck.

After several courses of antibiotics, a blood test was taken on the last visit, which was processed as urgent. We were due to fly to Spain for a family holiday two weeks later, but fate had other plans for us.

I’d visited the GP at 9am and by 5pm the doctors were contacting me to get to hospital the next day. My mind went into overdrive; what was wrong with me? All I knew was there was a problem with the white cell count; what could that mean?

After a restless night, my husband and I made our way to the local hospital not knowing what to expect. A nurse approached me and took my blood pressure and reassured me that they would make me better. I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

After what seemed like an eternity, the consultant called us in and broke the news that I’d got leukaemia, but at this stage they didn’t know if it was chronic or acute. After more tests and x-rays, I was allowed home that night.

The next day it was confirmed as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and we were told to head to Hull Royal Infirmary, which was a forty-minute drive from home. There we were greeted by the registrar and consultant, who explained everything and the treatments that lay ahead. The treatment in itself was going to be a challenge, but with a positive attitude and support from family, I was determined to come through this.

Six months of gruelling chemotherapy and many bone marrow biopsies followed. There were ups and downs along the way, but I was determined to survive to see my four-year-old grow up.

My son is now 16 and about to start an apprenticeship. It’s an absolute privilege to still be here to watch him grow and I never lose sight of that. I’m 12 and a half years in remission now and a keen runner. I ran three half marathons last year and continuously fundraise for local charities.

To anybody reading my journey, I hope this inspires you and gives you hope to defeat this awful disease.


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Leukaemia Care works with a variety of different healthcare professionals, from consultant haematologists, GPs, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) and clinical psychologists.

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