A mum has been diagnosed with terminal cancer after first believing her symptoms were an allergic reaction – to MACKEREL.
Julie Hart, 60, woke up a month ago to find her face and neck had swollen after enjoying a fish supper the night before as part of her new health kick.
She popped to her local pharmacy to pick up some anti-histamines and they suggested she visit her GP to get it checked over.
Following a chest X-ray two days later the mum-of-one was told she had a large shadow over her right lung and was referred to hospital.
Julie says a week later she was booked in for a mammogram and ultrasound at Herts and Essex Hospital.
She was told she had stage 4 lung cancer and only had 18 months left to live.
The former airport worker is now receiving chemotherapy every three weeks in the hope of extending her life for a few more months.
But she is trying to cheer herself up by ”making friends” with her tumour – and calling it Charlie.
Julie, from Stansted, Essex, said: “It was just such a shock. There wasn’t any warning signs or any symptoms showing.
“I genuinely thought it was a reaction to mackerel.
”I’ve always been a fan of cod but never really ventured into ‘healthy’ fish and I was starting to get into a bit of a health kick.
“I just woke up one morning to a swollen face and a week later told I have 18 months to live.”
Julie’s sister Anita passed away from breast cancer 20 years ago and her elderly mum is in a care home and currently estranged from her daughter.
She fears she will face her last Christmas alone due to current Government guidelines.
Julie said: “My dear old mum is 92 and in a care home.
”I can’t visit her and I have not been able to hug or give my mum a kiss since March and only seen her a handful of times.
“Now with the country locking down and everything being so restricted I don’t know if I will be able to again before my time is up.
“I’m running on borrowed time.
“Christmas is going to be lonely.
“We’re both classed as vulnerable under the coronavirus guidelines so our hands are tied.
“I feel so blessed she is there, safe, I can talk to her on the phone, I can hear her voice, she has been absolutely marvellous about my prognosis although she said she wants to go before me.
“We lost Anita to cancer twenty years ago for a mother to be burying her second daughter seems so unfair.
“She’s worried if I go before her no body will be planning her funeral and nobody would turn up.
“It’s a very weird position to be in, all the talk of death.
“My daughter knows how ill I am but hasn’t decided to reach out. I’m at peace with that now.
“I’m isolating and spend all day in my house, aside from going for hospital visits but I have the TV to keep me company.
“I look forward getting up to watch Piers, Susanna and Kate every morning.
“I pray for Derek every night, Kate has been such an inspiration for all those who have suffered and still suffering with this terrible pandemic.
“To be told I have tops 18 months to live is an indescribable feeling.
“Yet weirdly at the same time I’m at peace with it.
“I’ve made friends with my tumour and called him Charlie. It’s the only thing I will have with me until the end so my thinking is I better befriend him.
“I have to be at peace with it.
“The only thing I would love to do before I go is to visit Downtown Abbey whether that be socially distanced or not.
“It was my 60th birthday this year and I’ve never had a big party in my life but what with the pandemic I feel like I should do something before I go.
“But that aside I would just love to give my mum one last big hug.”