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Woman diagnosed with cancer after she started to get headaches while drinking alcohol

Ali Condon

Published 
| Last updated 

Woman diagnosed with cancer after she started to get headaches while drinking alcohol

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media

When a single glass of wine would suddenly left party-loving Izzy with unbearable headaches, she was convinced that she had developed an alcohol allergy.

That's why she was so shocked to discover a few months later that the headaches were actually a symptom of blood cancer.

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Izzy Fletcher, 23, started suffering from the intense headaches last March, and today she's in the process of six weeks of chemotherapy after a shocking Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis.

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Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare form of blood cancer that forms in the body's lymphatic system, collecting in areas such as the lymph nodes.

Some of the most common symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes, unintentional weight loss, and a persistent cough.

A risk of developing the disease can be increased by immunosuppressant medication, previous exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus, or having an illness that weakens the immune system.

When Izzy first started suffering from the 'splitting' headaches last year, she put it down to an allergy, and her boyfriend was sure it was psychological.

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Izzy Fletcher was convinced she had an alcohol allergy at first. Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Izzy Fletcher was convinced she had an alcohol allergy at first. Credit: Kennedy News and Media

"My head felt like it was going to explode. I had a really tight chest," Izzy recalled.

"My boyfriend used to say to me that it was just psychological, and that if I [don't] think about it then it won't happen. And then you think, 'am I going crazy?'."

For a while, Izzy, who works as an events coordinator, tried increasing her alcohol intake on nights out, as she said that drinking more seemed to help the affliction go away.

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But after developing a non-stop cough, she eventually decided to visit Southampton University Hospital in December, where staff gave her a range of tests.

At first, doctors thought that Izzy's headache had 'nothing to do with' her cough, but when they diagnosed her with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma on 10 January, they realised that the headaches were a symptom.

"When they told me that, it was a relief. I wasn't going crazy," she said.

Izzy began chemotherapy on Monday, 6 February and, despite the shock, she's keeping positive since the procedure has a 'very high' success rate.

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Now, Izzy is urging everyone to get any odd symptoms checked ASAP. Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Now, Izzy is urging everyone to get any odd symptoms checked ASAP. Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Now, Izzy is encouraging others to check with their GP if they start to develop confusing symptoms.

"The biggest thing I've learned from this is that if you are worried about something, just go and get it checked out," she said.

"As a 23-year-old, you don't really think, 'Oh, I'd best go and get myself checked out at the GP'.

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"You obviously don't expect that it's really going to be anything that serious, and obviously you never expect that you're going to get cancer at 23."

She continued: "I have never struggled with anxiety in my life, but the anxiety I felt for those [few] weeks up until now has just been crazy.

"Now my treatment is six months of chemo. In terms of curability and survival it has a really, really high success rate."

Topics: Health, Real Life

Ali Condon
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