Woman, 24, experienced breathlessness cause by rare cancer

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

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A young woman who collapsed in a supermarket not long after doctors attributed her symptoms to stress, has been diagnosed with a rare stage four cancer. Mollie Mulheron, 24, started to experience strange symptoms while travelling in the Galapagos Islands. But when she returned home, doctors told her that she was simply “too stressed”.

Mollie, from Skipton in North Yorkshire, had been working in the Galapagos Islands as an English teacher, and enjoyed exploring the tropical islands.

However, she began to experience symptoms, including trouble breathing and swallowing.

She was told there weren’t enough students for her to teach, so she booked a flight home on February 4 – 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.

Doctors discovered a 15 centimetre tumour over her heart and lungs, and she was told the reason she kept collapsing was because she was repeatedly having heart attacks.

A biopsy revealed Mollie had stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a type of cancer that develops through the lymphatic system.

Recalling the moment she was diagnosed, 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.

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“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.”

Doctors prescribed steroids to stop the tumour from growing any more, and due to the advanced state of the tumour 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 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 most common sign of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin.

However, it can also cause:

  • Night sweats
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • A high temperature (fever)
  • Feelings of breathlessness
  • Persistent itching of the skin all over the body.

Mollie has set up a fundraising page to help pay for expenses such as food and care while she undergoes treatment, as well as a wig. This can be found at gofundme.com/f/2xdr8-mollies-cancer-fund.

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