Doctors told me I was just stressed but actually I’ve got stage-four cancer – and I only found out after collapsing in a supermarket
- Mollie Mulheron, 24, developed strange symptoms while in the Galapagos
- Doctors there said the symptoms were ‘in her head’ and she was ‘too stressed’
- After returning to UK last month, she collapsed in a shop and went to hospital
- She had a 15cm tumour over her heart and lungs and was diagnosed with cancer
An English teacher who collapsed in a supermarket after being told by doctors that her symptoms were down to stress has been diagnosed with a stage four cancer.
Mollie Mulheron, 24, had recently returned from travelling in the Galapagos Islands, where she began suffering difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Despite having such trouble that she almost drowned while snorkelling, medics on the islands told her the issues were ‘in her head’ and that she was ‘too stressed’.
She returned to the UK on February 4, after nine months abroad, and within 48 hours began vomiting and collapsed in a Booths supermarket in North Yorkshire.
Ms Mulheron was rushed to Airedale Hospital in Steeton, near Bradford, where doctors found a 15cm tumour over her heart and lungs and diagnosed her with stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Mollie Mulheron, 24, had recently returned from travelling in the Galapagos Islands – where she began suffering from symptoms including trouble breathing and swallowing (Pictured in hospital)
Ms Mulheron returned to the UK on February 4 and within 48 hours began vomiting and collapsed in a Booths supermarket, in North Yorkshire (Pictured on her travels in South America)
Despite having such difficulty breathing that she almost drowned while snorkelling, doctors told her the issues were ‘in her head’ and that she was ‘too stressed’ (Pictured is a rash she developed while travelling, one of her cancer symptoms)
‘I just cried and screamed and screamed – it was out of nowhere, I knew something was wrong but I didn’t think it was that wrong,’ Ms Mulheron said.
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, which is the body’s disease-fighting network.
More than 14,000 people in the UK and 80,000 in the US receive a diagnosis of NHL each year, according to charities.
It is a rare type of cancer, making up just 4 per cent of all UK cases.
Ms Mulheron, from Skipton, North Yorkshire, said her shock diagnosis was ‘the worst news of my life, I can’t even explain how it felt now’.
She added: ‘I still can’t comprehend it now – [when I was told] I was screaming to my mum about my future plans, how I wanted to be a mum and get married, all I could do was stare at the wall and cry and scream.’
Due to the aggressiveness of her cancer, Ms Mulheron was unable to undergo cryopreservation – preserving biological material by cooling it to very low temperatures – to protect her fertility before she started chemo on February 21.
Doctors instead gave her an injection to put her in a temporary early menopause in the hope that once chemo was completed, she could conceive.
She said this was ‘the worst part for me as I always wanted to be a mum’.
Ms Mulheron had flown to the Galapagos Islands to pursue her dream of travelling.
However, while out there she began to experience strange symptoms, including rashes.
She was told there weren’t enough students for her to teach, so flew back to the UK on February 4.
She collapsed two days later and was taken to hospital in an ambulance before undergoing blood tests, an X-ray and CT scans.
Ms Mulheron was rushed to Airedale Hospital – where doctors found a 15cm tumour over her heart and lungs (Pictured: Her bruised arm in hospital in West Yorkshire)
Due to the aggressiveness of her cancer, Ms Mulheron was unable to undergo cryopreservation – preserving biological material by cooling it to very low temperatures – to protect her fertility before she started chemo on February 21 (pictured in hospital)
‘I just cried and screamed and screamed – it was out of nowhere, I knew something was wrong but I didn’t think it was that wrong,’ Ms Mulheron said
It is not clear why she collapsed.
Ms Mulheron was told she had cancer on February 7 and on February 17 medics confirmed it was NHL.
She was prescribed steroids to stop the tumour from growing any more and due to the advanced state of the tumour, swiftly began chemotherapy.
‘I’ve been fit and healthy my whole life, I’ve always been completely fine – I don’t know what has caused this, I’m healthy and young, three weeks ago I was in Galapagos living my best life’, she added.
Doctors told Ms Mulheron they are hopeful they can treat the cancer as there are many options due to her being young, fit and healthy.
Statistics suggest stage four NHL has a five-year survival rate of around 64 per cent.
What is lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes, which is the body’s disease-fighting network.
That network consists of the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and thymus gland.
There are various types of lymphoma, but two main ones: non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s.
Both have much better prognoses than many types of cancer.
WHAT IS HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA?
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells. It is named after Thomas Hodgkin, an English doctor who first identified the disease in 1832.
It affects around 2,000 people each year in the UK, and 8,500 a year in the US.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is most common between the ages of 20 and 24, and 75 and 79.
Five-year survival rates:
The survival rates are much more favourable than most other cancers.
- Stage 1: 90%
- Stage 2: 90%
- Stage 3: 80%
- Stage 4: 65%
- a painless swelling in the armpits, neck and groin
- heavy night sweating
- extreme weight loss
- shortness of breath
- lowered immunity
- a family history of the condition
- those who are overweight
- stem cell or bone marrow transplants
WHAT IS NON-HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA?
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur anywhere in the body but is usually first noticed in the lymph nodes around sufferers’ necks.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma affects around 14,000 new people every year in the UK. In the US, more than 80,000 people are diagnosed annually.
It is more common in males than females, and it is commonly diagnosed either in a patient’s early 20s or after the age of 55.
Five-year survival rates:
Survival can vary widely with NHL.
The general survival rate for five years is 70 percent, and the chance of living 10 years is approximately 60 percent.
- Painless swellings in the neck, armpit or groin
- Heavy night sweating
- Unexplained weight loss of more than one-tenth of a person’s body
- over 75
- have a weak immune system
- suffer from celiac disease
- have a family history of the condition
- have had other types of cancer
It depends on the number and locations of the body affected by Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Therapy typically includes chemotherapy.