Living with cancer: Bridlington resident Alice shares her blood cancer diagnosis

Alice Scanlon
Alice Scanlon

A Bridlington resident, who is living with a type of blood cancer, has spoken out about her diagnosis.

Alice Scanlon was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) last year after finding a small lump on the side of her neck.

The 67-year-old had recently received some vaccinations to travel to the Far East and her GP thought it was just a side-effect of that but agreed to keep an eye on it. Then three months later, in June 2018 Alice contracted a stomach bug and the lump got even bigger, resulting in her being hospitalised due to dehydration.

She then saw her GP again and was referred on for an ultrasound on the lump and to see a maxillofacial consultant.

The retired local government officer was under the assumption that these had all come back clear but had been sent on for a CT scan as a precaution.

When she asked the nurse what she was looking for on the scan, she was shocked to hear that they were “looking to see if the cancer had spread anywhere else”, but she hadn’t even been told she had cancer in the first place.

More tests confirmed Alice had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), a type of blood cancer.

Alice currently has no symptoms and has therefore been placed on a ‘watch and wait’ list which she won’t have any treatment until the cancer becomes more advanced - but there is no way of telling how long that will be.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells and tends to progress slowly over many years. It mostly affects people over the age of 60 and is rare in people under 40.

Speaking about living with the condition, Alice who is originally from Bradford, said: “It’s the fear of the unknown, having no treatment and never knowing when that will be. There were no support groups in my area, so it was a long time before I even spoke to another person with the same condition. When I did, through the CLL Support Association patient group, it was so reassuring.

“I do feel like a bit of a fraud because I have cancer, but I look and feel fine. Speaking to other people in my position has been so enlightening and made me feel so hopeful for the future.”

September is blood cancer awareness month and the message is to 'make blood cancer visible' which is why Alice is sharing her story this month.

The campaign aims to improve earlier diagnosis by making people aware of the symptoms of blood cancer as early detection of cancer can saves lives.

Alice, who lives off Bempton Lane, hopes to set up a support group up in Bridlington in the future.

More information on the campaign and blood cancer can be found at www.makebloodcancervisible.co.uk