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My doctors said I was just scared – but I knew I was seriously ill

A mother has urged people to trust their own instincts after battling a shocking diagnosis for over a year.

Heidi Richard, 47, was dismissed as a simple fear as she repeatedly went to doctors with symptoms.

She was also incorrectly told she had heartburn, glandular fever, or stress.

But Heidi actually had stage four cancer that had riddled her body and was facing a long battle.

Heidi wrote in a play for today: “In the spring of 2019, I got severe stomach pains at night, vomiting and night sweats.

“When I went to the doctor, they did some blood tests and said, ‘You’re young, your stomach problems are probably due to that emphasize or fear‘. They gave me an antacid and sent me on my way.”

Heidi, from Worcester, Massachusetts, then struggled to eat without feeling sick and unexpectedly lost 28 pounds.

But again, Heidi claims doctors said she was probably just stressed from work and even gave her anti-anxiety medication.

She said: “I believed them even though I knew something was wrong. I’ve always asked to be seen or asked someone to listen to me. It was frustrating.”

Almost a year after the onset of the first symptoms, Heidi felt weary during the day, back pain and swelling on the side of her neck.

“I went back to the doctor and they started calling it off again,” she said.

“They said I pulled a muscle and put me on a muscle relaxant. So I said no, I want some kind of imaging test.”

Doctors gave Heidi, a school teacher, a CT scan that showed “something suspicious.”

A biopsy resulted in a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin Lymphomaa type of blood cancer that weakens the immune system.

Heidi had stage 4 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), which is the most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is fast growing.

About 5,500 people are diagnosed with DLBCL each year in the UK and 18,000 people in the US.

Heidi said: “It was everywhere: my stomach, spleen, bone marrow, breastbone, lungs, groin and neck.

“A mass in my abdomen was pushing my bowels to one side – that’s why I had this abdominal pain.”

Heidi has had chemotherapy for several months and a stem cell transplant in January 2021, which helps increase the chances of long-term remission.

The mother has been told that she will be in remission in the fall of 2020 and if she is still in remission a few months from now her chances of relapse will be reduced.

Nevertheless, she needs immunotherapy every three weeks to train the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells.

Almost a year after the onset of symptoms, Heidi felt tired during the day, had back pain and swelling on the side of her neck.
Almost a year after the onset of symptoms, Heidi felt tired during the day, had back pain and swelling on the side of her neck.
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Incredibly, she still pursues her favorite hobby, running, and is training for the Boston Marathon.

“Running a marathon was an analogy that one of my nurses and I used during my treatment to help me assess where I was. She would say, “You’re on the 10 mile mark” or “You’re on the last five miles.”

“Running a marathon after using this analogy throughout my treatment feels like coming full circle.”

Heidi urged others to get used to their bodies so they’ll know when something’s wrong and to urge doctors to get tested if they’re concerned.

She said: “Don’t be scared of sounding like a hypochondriac – I was scared of that and luckily I spoke up when I did because eventually I’d had enough.

“Sometimes I think about it: what if I didn’t ask for that imaging test? It might have gone further, and perhaps there was nothing they could have done.”

This story originally appeared on the sun and is reproduced here with permission.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/08/my-doctors-said-i-just-had-anxiety-but-i-knew-i-was-seriously-ill/ My doctors said I was just scared – but I knew I was seriously ill

DUSTIN JONES

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