A WOMAN has shared how her excruciating pain was confused with long Covid when she actually had stage four cancer.
Nichola Petermann, 26, spent months suffering from fever, stomach pain and night sweats when doctors thought her symptoms were a result of her getting Covid-19 back in January.
As her illness gradually got worse, she reached the point where she was taking six pain medications a day.
Nichola, from Glasgow, told The Mirror: “I thought for a long time it was long Covid, I had no idea how serious it was.
“Because I was working and it was harder to see GPs, it was really hard.
“I treated it myself with pain relief, but eventually it came to a point where I could not cope with it anymore.
“I took paracetamol six times a day, I do not think they believed in me when I said how much pain I was in.”
Nichola realized how bad her condition actually was after visiting her grandmother who is battling stomach cancer.
She said, “I noticed I slept more and ate less than she did.
“It was then that I knew for sure that something was wrong.”
Nichola contacted NHS24 as the pain became unbearable and was referred to an immediate assessment unit as staff were concerned about the amount of paracetamol she was taking.
She was being discharged as ultrasound and x-rays revealed no problem.
But when a final ultrasound revealed ovarian cysts and trapped fluid, doctors were able to give her the cancer diagnosis.
Nichola was eventually diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was told she should start treatment immediately.
She added: “I had not heard of it, I did not know what it meant.
“It’s a very aggressive cancer, but it means it can be easier to treat. As soon as it was diagnosed, they realized how serious it was and I started chemotherapy the next day.”
Her diagnosis with stage 4b cancer also meant she was forced to leave her dream job of working in television, which she started in December.
Nichola lost three stones and was unable to walk after spending ten weeks at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
She needed help moving and could only be fed through a tube before she was discharged in August.
She praised the hospital staff and said: “Although they were also clearly short-staffed, I never felt it affected my care at all.
Nichola, who finally got the good news that the cancer was in remission, said she hopes to return to work in the new year, even though she still suffers from chronic fatigue.
“I feel much better, but I’m still pretty slow, I’m still struggling a lot with a lot of pain.
“I’m getting there, I’m still very tired, but I’m really eager to get back to work, I’m hopefully starting to look for something after Christmas.”
Meanwhile, she is determined to raise funds for Blood Cancer UK, a charity that she said has been a great help during her illness.
She has gone every day in a 26.2-mile challenge in November and has set up a JustGiving site that has already raised over £ 2,500.
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