Medics treated a brave young woman with such a rare cancer they didn’t believe she had it – by removing her SPINE.
Beth Semikin, 22, was diagnosed with a form of cancer so rare that doctors did not know it could be aggressive, and they thought it was benign.
As a result, they attempted to remove the tumour in a way that inadvertently increased her chances of getting it again.
Beth, who has sarcoma, a cancerous tumour in between her spine and pelvis, was first treated by having it was removed in a small private hospital in the UK with a surgical sucker.
This meant that some cancerous cells were left in her body – and the tumour regrew to double the size.
Unaware of the complication, Beth had travelled to Florida for proton therapy by the NHS before being told that she had to return to the UK for more surgery.
When the 22-year-old’s was told her cancer had returned, she was stumped that doctors then gave her a 25 per cent chance of survival – but incredibly has made it.
Beth, from Banstead, Surrey, said: “When I was told that I had a 25 per cent chance of survival, the walls just closed in around me.
“I remember just standing in the shower crying.
“If you move or interfere with a malignant tumour you actually increase the chance of it spreading.
“Which does worry me because sarcoma has quite a high recurrence rate and it often likes to spread to the chest.”
“That survival statistic wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the wrong procedure, but it wasn’t directly caused by it.”
Beth then had to have a second operation that lasted 11-hours, where her spine had to be detached from her pelvis and then reattached with titanium screws.
She is currently living temporarily in the United States with her mum Allison, where she is getting a combination of proton and radiotherapy at the UF Proton Centre in Jacksonville, Florida.
Inspiring Beth is using her blog Tumour Has It to share her journey with the world – and had an impressive 5,000 readers to her first-ever post.
Her candid and charming words bring to light some of the unspoken truths of cancer sufferers, including incontinence and misdiagnosis.
She writes about how it took months to get a proper diagnosis because an unobservant doctor missed her tumour on an MRI scan – when she originally visited a doctor complaining of back pain.
In the post ‘How Not To Get Diagnosed’ she wrote that a doctor assured her that there was nothing abnormal on her scan “at all”.
But a few months later, when she got a diagnosis, she said she felt a strange sense of relief.
She said: “Weirdly when I got my diagnosis I felt relieved. I thought I would live with that pain for my whole life.”
Now, she uses her blog as a coping mechanism, and humour as her best defence.
She said: “I think that I use humour as a defence mechanism, and it makes everything less scary.
“Cancer diagnosis can take so much from you. Trying to put humour into what I wrote allows me to take control.”
Despite all of the medical problems she has had since her original scan in December 2014, Beth said she is so grateful for all of the help she has been given.
She said: “The NHS, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and UCL Hospital have literally saved my life and I really do feel unbelievably lucky to have them.
“I had my second surgery at Stanmore and go there for some of my check ups and physio.
“I have my chemo and see my psychologist at the Macmillan Centre. They really are just both amazing places, I feel so lucky to be a patient there.”
Beth will return from the US in February and have regular three-month check-ups to ensure the cancer does not return.