St Albans woman with chronic leukaemia helps raise awareness of condition

PUBLISHED: 09:41 10 September 2018

Melanie Joy Hanni. Picture: Leukaemia Care

Melanie Joy Hanni. Picture: Leukaemia Care

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A St Albans woman is campaigning to raise awareness of leukaemia after being diagnosed at the age of 31.

Melanie Joy Hanni, now 32, is encouraging people to learn the symptoms of leukaemia during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place throughout September.

Since being diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), Melanie has been supporting national blood cancer charity Leukaemia Care’s #SpotLeukaemia campaign.

She said: “I saw my GP because I was having daily headaches. During the appointment she measured by blood pressure and it was ridiculously high. 
“This had never been the case for me, I’ve always been the low blood pressure type of person, the one who gets dizzy when it’s too hot and so on.

“As the high blood pressure was very unusual for me, especially considering my age, my doctor asked for some blood tests.”

The day Melanie got her blood tests done she received a call from her GP and was immediately referred to a hospital haematologist, who diagnosed her with CML.

Melanie said: “I didn’t even know there were different types of leukaemia, much less that there are chronic ones. I found out during the appointment that some of the symptoms I was having, and just shrugged off, were actually signs of leukaemia, these were: excessive sweating, especially at night, tiredness, breathlessness, a rash and unintended weight loss.

“Had I known all these symptoms combined could mean blood cancer, I would have sought out my GP a lot sooner.”

CML is manageable by taking chemotherapy tablets at home and having blood tests every three months, and Melanie has a normal life-span despite the side effects of treatments.

The campaign is urging people to be aware of the most common symptoms of leukaemia prior to diagnosis: fatigue, bruising or bleeding, bone or joint pain, fever or night sweats, sleeping problems and shortness of breath.

Leukaemia can be hard to spot because the symptoms often look similar to other unrelated conditions, and early diagnosis saves lives and improves outcomes for patients.

Cards listing symptoms and more information about the campaign can be found at https://www.leukaemiacare.org.uk/get-involved/our-campaigns/spotleukaemia/

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A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

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