Tom Hunt

Tom was 18 and travelling across Europe during his gap year when he began to feel unwell. Tom made the decision to cut his trip short, and soon after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Here, he tells his story.

I had just finished my A-levels and was going to be taking a gap year before starting Medicine at Manchester University in September 2018. However, all summer I had random phases of feeling really tired after doing what was a normal day for me, but had no idea why.

At the beginning of September, I went interrailing with my mates starting in Budapest, before going to Vienna, then Prague and finally Berlin. In Budapest, I started feeling quite ill but powered on thinking I needed to stop drinking and sleep a bit more. By the time we got to Prague I had got a lot worse. At this point I had both a chest and throat infection and I was also sleeping a lot, feeling very tired even after 16 hours sleep when I usually sleep 7-8 hours. That was when I started to think something was up.

I flew home early deciding this was my best option. Luckily, one of the lads I was away with has a Dad who happens to be my local GP, so I emailed him directly and was seen Monday after getting back Saturday. I was given antibiotics and I then saw him again Wednesday for blood tests due to a large haematoma on my leg. The blood tests confirmed I had glandular fever; however, I could also have leukaemia.

From here I went to the Manchester Royal Infirmary that night, where by Friday after a bone marrow biopsy and various tests, my diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia had all been confirmed. Thanks to a quick appointment and attentive GP, I was diagnosed within one week of developing symptoms.

I then moved to the Christie on Saturday where I stayed for another month for the first stage of my intensive treatment. From here until April 2019, I’ve had many blood and platelet transfusions, as well as lots of chemotherapy across the first four intensive stages.

Along with this I had a seizure in November which I have no history of and have not had a reoccurrence since. The cause of this was unknown; however, I had to surrender my driving license due to this which I’ve recently been able to reapply for.

I’ve been in morphological remission since October/November 2018 and finished intensive treatment at the end of April. I’ve now moved onto my maintenance where I take two types of oral chemo tablets till December 2021. I’ve also started going to the gym, going out more with mates and started prepping for university in September, organising more work experience to do now I’m getting better and as life gets more back to normal.


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