‘Doctors told me it was stress – then I was diagnosed with stage four cancer’
A woman who collapsed in a supermarket after being told by doctors that her symptoms were caused by stress has been diagnosed with stage four cancer.
Mollie Mulheron, 24, had recently returned from travelling in the Galapagos Islands where she began experiencing symptoms, but was assured by doctors she was simply ‘too stressed’.
Despite Mulheron experiencing such difficulty with breathing that she almost drowned while snorkelling, doctors insisted her the issues were ‘in her head’.
However, after returning to the UK she collapsed in public and was rushed to hospital – where doctors diagnosed her with a 15cm tumour spanning her heart and lungs.
Now, Mollie has been given a diagnosis of stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She says she still can’t comprehend what’s happened.
Mollie said: “That was the worst news of my life, I can’t even explain how it felt now.
“I just cried and screamed and screamed – it was out of nowhere, I knew something was wrong but I didn’t think it was that wrong.
“I’m waiting to hear how much it’s spread. It doesn’t mean I’m going to die tomorrow but it means treatment needs to start now.
“They’ve given me an injection to try and preserve my fertility so kids aren’t out the question. It’s put me in early menopause, it’s the worst part for me as I always wanted to be a mum.”
Mollie, from Skipton, Leeds, had travelled to the Galapagos Islands to pursue her dream of travelling.
While there, she worked as an English teacher and enjoyed exploring the tropical islands.
However, she began to experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing and swallowing. Typical signs of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin, abdominal pain or swelling, chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss.
She was told there weren’t enough students for her to teach, so she booked a flight home for 4 February – but within 48 hours of touching down in the UK, she collapsed and began throwing up in a supermarket.
An ambulance was called and Mollie was rushed to hospital where she underwent blood tests, and X-ray and CT scans.
She was given the devastating diagnosis and told the tumour had been affecting her heart.
Doctors prescribed steroids to stop the tumour from growing. Due to the advanced stage, Mollie swiftly began chemotherapy.
“I’ve been fit and healthy my whole life, I’ve always been completely fine – I don’t know what has caused this, I’m healthy and young, three weeks ago I was in Galapagos living my best life”, said Mollie.
“I still can’t comprehend it now - [when I was told] I was screaming to my mum about my future plans, how I wanted to be a mum and get married, all I could do was stare at the wall and cry and scream.
“The doctors immediately put me on steroids to stop the growth of the tumour while they tried to figure out what was going on.
“They couldn’t start treatment until they knew exactly what it was so I was waiting for the biopsy to come back.
“When I finally got the results, it wasn’t what we hoped for – it’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is rare and aggressive.
“The doctors seem hopeful they can treat it and say the success rate for the type of cancer I have is good and it looks hopeful.
“The only sad thing is that it’s stage four which means it’s on both sides of my chest and has spread to other parts of my body.
“I started chemo and had a bad reaction to the first treatment, but the doctors said it was because they started it too fast, and after that it was okay, I just had a few side effects like headaches.
“The doctors say there are a lot of treatments they can try because I’m young, fit and healthy.”