A 24-year-old woman who thought her sore throat and swallowing issues were down to tonsillitis was shocked to discover that she actually had a rare blood cancer.
Georgina Masson dismissed her swallowing problems as an infection after having had tonsillitis several times before.
However, after a course of antibiotics she continued to struggle to swallow and could hardly 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 leukaemia (APML) after a week in hospital.
Georgina, who had lost her dad, Paul, 54, to cancer when she was 15 was shocked by the news and was rushed to start treatment the next day.
Now nearing the end of her eight cycles of chemotherapy, she is thankful she was able to catch the disease early.
‘I felt so numb when they told me I had cancer’
Georgina, who worked as an admin worker, from Horsham, West Sussex, said: "I felt so numb when they told me I had cancer.
"I just thought I had tonsillitis - I had no idea it was so much more serious than that.
"I had to start treatment straight away. It was terrifying - especially after losing my dad when I was 15. I never expected to get cancer at 24.
"I really thought I had a sore throat but it turned out to be much worse."
‘The drugs didn’t seem to be working’
In July 2021, Georgina started to notice she had lost some weight but did not think anything of it as she was happy to shift some pounds for summer.
"I think I lost about three stone but that didn’t seem worrying," she said.
But she was also finding her gums would bleed easily and she’d bruise quickly.
"I’d never had nose bleeds or anything but suddenly I was getting them," Georgina said.
"I just thought the bruises were down to my clumsiness."
After thinking she had tonsillitis in July 2021, she was given antibiotics to clear up the infection.
"After a few weeks I still couldn’t swallow and I could hardly open my mouth," she said.
"The drugs didn’t seem to be working."
‘It didn’t really sink in at first’
Georgina was admitted to East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, Surrey, by her GP and they ran more tests to see what it could be.
"I start to get an awful red rash all over my body," she said.
"Doctors thought it could have been a reaction to the antibiotics but they didn’t go away when I came off them."
Eventually, after a bone marrow biopsy, doctors were able to diagnose Georgina with acute myeloid leukaemia in August 2021.
"I didn’t really acknowledge what they had said," Georgina.
"My mum, 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.
"At first they told me I had the AML strain which is not as 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 looked into it further and needed me to start that night.
"I had only been told I had cancer the day before and suddenly I was starting chemo.
"It was all so fast."
‘There were points where I thought I was going to die’
Georgina started her treatment in August 2021. She has undergone seven cycles so far and is due to finish in May 2022.
"It has been really hard," she said.
"I’ve suffered really bad headaches from it to the point of having to sit in a completely dark room with an eye mask on.
"But recent results show that I’m almost in complete molecular remission.
"I’m feeling 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."