A 23-year-old student was diagnosed with blood cancer after she developed heavy periods and a chest infection – and is facing the next six months alone in hospital.
Niamh Edelsten, who is studying to become a primary school teacher, was diagnosed with acute-myeloid leukaemia after initially receiving treatment for a chest infection at the end of last year.
Before Christmas Niamh thought she had coronavirus after a colleague at the school where she was on placement began self isolating.
But a test came back negative and her doctor began treating her with antibiotics for a chest infection.
Worried Niamh continued to feel unwell and fainted in the shower, before she called out of hours medics who thought she might have labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection.
But she went to the doctors on January 14 and was immediately admitted to hospital where medics diagnosed her with blood cancer.
Niamh, who has been in hospital ever since, was allowed to see her parents following her diagnosis under special circumstances given her young age.
But medics said will likely spend the next six months in hospital, unable to see her friends and family, as she undergoes intensive rounds of chemotherapy twice a day.
Niamh, from Govanhill, Glasgow, said: “When the doctors diagnosed me I didn’t really take it in at the time, it kind of went over my head.
“It wasn’t until the next day it really hit me when I had a blood transfusion.
“It was so hard being alone, but because of my age, they allowed my mum and dad to visit me under special circumstances.
“I started treatment pretty quickly, I am having chemo twice a day for half an hour, and an injection every second day with another type of chemo – it’s really intense.
“The cancer is not terminal, and the doctors are hoping I will go into remission after this first round of chemo, but I will be having three round of it to make sure we get it all.
“That’s the hope anyway, but we don’t know what will happen.
“They have told me to prepare myself for being in hospital for the next six months, and I won’t get to see my family again.
“But it’s six rubbish months for the rest of my life.”
Shortly before her diagnosis Niamh had experienced an extremely heavy period and said it’s important girls know heavy, irregular periods could be a symptom of blood cancer.
Niamh, a student at Strathclyde University, said: “I called the doctors and was put on antibiotics for the chest infection just before Christmas.
“I started to feel better but not 100 per cent, and then I fainted one day in the shower.
“I was really dizzy and my lips were blue so I called the out of hours service and they said they thought it was labyrinthitis.
“A few days later I got my period, it had been 51 days since my last one which was really odd for me, as I am normally regular.
“But it came with a vengeance, I have never experienced such a heavy period in all my life.
“People need to be aware of their symptoms if they think that something is wrong.
“Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t know heavy irregular periods was a symptom of blood cancer.”
Niamh is trying to remain positive with the help of her mum Carole, 55, dad Gerry, 57, and boyfriend Euan Mclaughlin, 22 – who has shaved his head to support her.
Niamh said: “The support from my family has been amazing, it’s what has kept my going.
“My boyfriend shaved his head the first day I had chemo because he knows how terrified I am about losing my hair.
“That’s the biggest worry for me really, the anticipation of knowing my hair will fall out.”
Her family have since launched a fundraiser to ‘Run 50k for Blood Cancer UK’, after Niamh said that she wanted to raise awareness of the symptoms.
In just seven days nearly £15,000 has been raised.
Niahm added: “It’s unbelievable that we’ve raised this much money already.
“For me the biggest thing is raising awareness of the symptoms so people know what to look out for.”
To donate visit – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rebecca-boyle14