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26 February 2021

Inspirational 24-year-old given all-clear from rare blood cancer after receiving specialist care at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals


An inspirational 24-year old diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer has been given the all clear from the disease following treatment at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s specialist blood cancer unit.

Former personal trainer Jak Thompson, of Broomhall, Sheffield, who prides himself on living a healthy, active lifestyle, first started noticing symptoms of his cancer in September 2019 when different rashes kept appearing on his chest and wrists. However, thinking it was an allergic reaction, he started using non-bio washes and constantly washing his bedding, but even taking antihistamines didn’t have an effect.

Before Christmas he felt a lump in his neck while out in a shopping centre but put this down to a sports massage he’d had the previous day.

By February Jak started to feel “ridiculously tired” and he was now also suffering with a worsening cough. At work a colleague pointed out a rash on his neck, which he inspected, only to find that it was the same lump he had noticed before Christmas, but now it had gotten bigger in size.

It wasn’t until March, however, that he started to question whether it was cancer.

“You hear the horrible stories of people getting diagnosed with a life-changing illness, but you never expect it to happen to you. I thought it must just be an infection, I can’t have cancer, but the paranoia started to settle in so I left the gym and walked to the NHS walk in clinic.”

With the country now in lockdown, a video call assessment was made to check his lump and Jak was referred for an urgent scan after some inflammatory markers were found in his bloods. A biopsy confirmed his diagnosis and he was given the devastating news that he had stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma, the most advanced form of the rare, fast-growing blood cancer.

“It’s the only moment in my life when my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of anything but it was the most memorable thing just because of how grave the news was. My head literally went to the floor,” said the recruitment consultant who grew up in Cleethorpes.

Jak then underwent 12 sessions of chemotherapy at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, receiving four different types of chemotherapy drugs. To ensure his care was managed during the pandemic, the teenage and young adult nurse specialist from the haematology team visited him at home to take his bloods pre chemo to ensure he was healthy enough to receive another round of treatment and to provide specialist teenage and young adult support. Determined to keep in shape and to keep as much muscle mass as possible, Jak continued to work out during his treatment when he felt able to with the support of Weston Park Cancer Charity who contributed to the funding of some additional gym equipment that he could use in his flat.

On the 24th November 2020, five weeks after his final chemotherapy session, Jak received the amazing news that there were no longer any signs of the cancerous cells in his body.

“It was just the best moment of my life. Knowing it had gone, that I didn’t have to worry, that I could tell my partner, family and friends that they needn’t be fearful for my life; it was just so invigorating. I could have died but going through what I have has given me a new perspective on life. The doctors and nurses at the Hallamshire who treated me were amazing. I couldn’t have been in better hands.”

Emma Clarke, Director of Services and Grant-Giving at Weston Park Cancer Charity, said: “A cancer diagnosis at any time is extremely tough, but Covid has made it especially hard for young people like Jak. His positive attitude to his treatment has been truly inspirational and as a specialist cancer charity we were delighted to support him in continuing to maintain his fitness during his treatment by providing him with a small grant which he could put towards buying some weights. This is just one example of how we’ve adapted our services and grant-giving during the pandemic so that we can continue to be there, at every step, for patients and families facing cancer.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is a specialist centre for the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers, including Hodgkin Lymphoma. Hodgkin Lymphoma is most common in young adults in their early 20s and those over 70.

To give or get support from Weston Park Cancer Charity visit westonpark.org.uk or call 0114 553 3330.

ENDS

Photos: Jak Thompson, the lump in his neck in March and the scan image of his cancer before his first chemotherapy session
 

 

 



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