I was told by doctors not to worry about my itchy skin – now I'm fighting for my life at 22 | The Sun

A WOMAN who suffered itchy skin claims doctors told her not to worry – but now she is fighting for her life aged just 22.

Rebecca Dennis, from London, was reassured that most of the time, people with her symptoms turned out to be fine.

She had been experiencing itchy skin and feeling tired.

But it was a lump in her neck, discovered in April of this year, that prompted her to seek help.

After Rebecca consulted her dentist about the mass, he referred her to London Kings College Hospital to have it checked.

She was seen in hospital in May and said: "The haematologist at Kings College Hospital I saw said it was likely to be nothing, and 98 per cent of the patients she saw that had the same symptoms as me turned out to be just fine.”

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The consultant overseeing Rebecca’s ultrasound was more concerned and took a biopsy of the lump. 

The results came back as "slightly suspicious", and another biopsy was taken.

A week later on 15 June, Rebecca's results revealed she had cancer.

She was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare T-cell type of lymphoma cancer.

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Fewer than 200 people in the UK are diagnosed each year in the UK.

Rebecca, an apprentice policy analyst, said: "When I first heard the words 'it is cancer' everything just went quiet to me.

"The doctor carried on talking to explain the type of lymphoma I had, but I couldn’t really hear what she was saying, I was so in shock.

"Once I could, I just asked her if it was curable, and once she said yes, I knew it meant I was going to have to have chemo."

Most people are diagnosed with ALCL at an advanced stage, according to Lymphoma Action, but Rebecca says hers was caught "early".

Since her diagnosis, Rebecca was told she would have to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Rebecca is currently on her first cycle of chemo which started on 21 July.

She says the treatment has left her feeling "very weak and nauseous".

"I don’t want to lose my hair and look ill, I don’t want my loved ones or strangers to look at me and feel pity,” Rebecca said.

"I am trying to come to terms with the fact that my hair is going to start falling very soon, and what that will mean for me.

"It has been hard on my parents – I don’t think anyone ever expects to have to support your child through cancer treatment.

"They have both been amazing though, helping me with everything I need, my mum has basically become my carer.

"My boyfriend, Michael, 25, and his family have been incredibly supportive too, offering me anything I need to get help through this.

"It’s especially important for me to be able to lean on him as he’s someone I can talk to about anything, any time of the day or night."

As the cancer was caught early, Rebecca was able to undergo surgery to preserve her eggs before chemo causes her to go infertile.

Despite finding the diagnosis difficult to get her head around, Rebecca says she is grateful for all the support she has been receiving.

She said: "Emotionally it’s been really hard to get my head around the fact that I’m 22 and I have cancer.

"I find myself thinking how it isn’t fair, and asking what I have done to deserve this. But really I think that I have to be grateful for the small things.

“I am grateful that it’s been caught so early, that I have an amazing support system around me and that I am getting treated at a hospital like the Royal Marsden.

"I have always struggled with my mental health, and this has obviously been a massive blow to me. But I find that talking about things and being honest is so powerful."

Rebecca is now sharing her diagnosis to raise awareness about checking lumps.

She said: "I want to tell young people how important it is to check your bodies. 

"I know it can be easy to put things off and just see if they go away.

"Sometimes doctors can make you feel like you’re overreacting, and tell you to wait and see. 

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"But at the end of the day you know your body, you are the one who has to live in it every day.

"If something doesn’t feel right, push for tests and answers. It is your health on the line, not theirs."

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