Georgina Masson, 24, thought she just had a common infection but was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (APML) after a week in the hospital, which left her crushed
Photo: Georgina Masson)
A woman who put her sore throat and swallowing problems down to tonsillitis was shocked to discover that she had a rare blood cancer – only 24.
Georgina Masson, 24, dismissed her swallowing problems as an infection after having tonsillitis several times before.
But after a course of antibiotics, she continued to struggle to swallow and could barely open her mouth.
She was admitted to East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, Surrey, where doctors ran tests to find out what was wrong.
In August 2021, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (APML) after a week in the hospital.
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Georgina, who had lost her father, Paul, 54, to cancer when she was 15, was shocked by the news and was rushed to start treatment the next day.
Now she is nearing the end of her eight chemotherapy cycles and she is grateful that she was able to get the disease early.
Georgina, who worked as an administrator from Horsham, West Sussex, said: “I felt so numb when they told me I had cancer.
“I just thought I had a sore throat – I had no idea it was so much more serious than that. I should start treatment right away.
“It was scary – especially after losing my father when I was 15.
“I never expected to get cancer as a 24-year-old. I really thought I had a sore throat, but it turned out to be much worse.”
In July 2021, Georgina began to notice that she had lost something, but did not think about it as she was happy to move a few kilos this summer.
“I think I lost about three stones, but it didn’t seem worrying,” she said.
But she also found that her gums bled easily and she quickly got bruises.
“I had never had nosebleeds or anything, but suddenly I got them,” Georgina said.
“I just thought bruises were due to my clumsiness.”
After believing she had tonsillitis in July 2021, she was given antibiotics to remove the infection.
“After a few weeks, I still could not swallow and I could barely open my mouth,” she said.
“Drugs didn’t seem to work.”
Georgina was admitted to East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, Surrey by her doctor and they ran several tests to see what it could be.
“I’m starting to get a terrible red rash all over my body,” she said.
“The doctors thought it might have been a reaction to the antibiotics, but they did not disappear when I got rid of them.”
Finally, after a bone marrow biopsy, doctors were able to diagnose Georgina with acute myeloid leukemia in August 2021.
“I did not really acknowledge what they had said,” Georgina.
“My mom, Elizabeth, 62, was more upset, but I just felt numb. It didn’t really sink in at first.”
Georgina was referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey, for her treatment.
“First, they told me I had the AML strain, which is not that rare, so they said I could go home and start chemotherapy in a week,” she said.
“But on the way home, they called to say they were investigating it further and needed me to start that night.
“I had only been told that I had cancer the day before, and suddenly I was doing chemo.
“It was all so fast.”
Georgina started her treatment in August 2021. She has completed seven cycles so far and should be completed in May 2022.
“It’s been really hard,” she said.
“I’ve had a really bad headache from it, so I’ve had to sit in a completely dark room with an eye mask on. But recent results show that I’m almost completely in molecular remission.
“I feel more positive now that I’m getting through this.
“But there were points where I thought I was going to die. I’m just so lucky I got it early.”