Leukaemia is a blood cancer that can affect people of all ages. At the age of 55, football fan and father of two, Kevin, was diagnosed with a rapidly progressing form of leukaemia.
Kevin said: “I had been helping my son’s football team, assembling a new set of goal posts. The work was a bit physical, but nothing out of the ordinary. The following day though, I felt a bit stiff and aching, mainly in my ankles and wrists. Putting this down to the physical activity of the evening before, I thought nothing more of it.”
After a few days, Kevin’s symptoms worsened, and his ankles and wrists started to become more painful.
"Realising this was something a bit more than just a sprain or two, I went to see my GP, thinking I perhaps had gout or some form of arthritis," he continued. “A blood test revealed I had a form of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). They said I had a large accumulation of faulty white blood cells in my blood which was the likely cause of the joint pain.”
The signs and symptoms of leukaemia are often associated with those of unrelated, but common, illnesses. This can make leukaemia difficult to spot.
“I had no idea what the symptoms of blood cancer were, other than tiredness and bruising," added Kevin. "I later realised that night sweats are a common symptom – I had been having these for two or three weeks, but it wasn’t unusual for me to get hot at night. As for tiredness, I was regularly tired because of my job, getting up at 4am to go to work as a delivery driver.”
The most common symptoms in all ages are:
- Feeling weak or breathless
- Fever or night sweats
- Easily bruising or bleeding
- Pain in bones or joints
- Frequent infections
Ensuring that you can spot the signs and symptoms of leukaemia can help diagnose leukaemia early. Early diagnosis saves lives. If you are concerned about spotting the signs and symptoms, visit your GP and request a blood test.
Unfortunately, Kevin lost his life to leukaemia 15 months after his diagnosis. His family have kindly agreed to share this story to help raise awareness.
To find out more about Spot Leukaemia and support the campaign, visit www.spotleukaemia.org.uk.
This week is also Organ Donation Week 2019. More information on Organ Donation Week 2019 can be seen here.