Home » news »

‘Party-loving’ graduate thought she had an ALCOHOL allergy

 

A ‘party-loving’ 23-year-old who believed she was battling symptoms of an alcohol allergy for nine months actually had cancer.

Izzy Fletcher, from Derby, began suffering from ‘splitting’ headaches and chest pain whenever she had an alcoholic drink last March.

The events coordinator, who assumed she was allergic to a component in her tipple or that her symptoms were psychological, finally sought medical help in December after developing a non-stop cough.

Tests revealed that she actually had Hodgkin lymphoma — an aggressive cancer that affects part of the immune system.

Ms Fletcher, who says she has ‘always loved to party’, started chemo this week and hopes to make a full recovery. She is urging others with irregular symptoms to make an appointment with their GP.

Izzy Fletcher, from Derby, began suffering from 'splitting' headaches and chest pain last March any time that she would have an alcoholic drin Izzy Fletcher, from Derby, began suffering from 'splitting' headaches and chest pain last March any time that she would have an alcoholic drin

Izzy Fletcher, from Derby, began suffering from ‘splitting’ headaches and chest pain last March any time that she would have an alcoholic drin

The events coordinator, who assumed she was allergic to a component in her tipple or that her symptoms were psychological, finally sought medical help in December after developing a non-stop cough The events coordinator, who assumed she was allergic to a component in her tipple or that her symptoms were psychological, finally sought medical help in December after developing a non-stop cough

The events coordinator, who assumed she was allergic to a component in her tipple or that her symptoms were psychological, finally sought medical help in December after developing a non-stop cough

Last March, Ms Fletcher started to suffer from a headache that left her feeling like it was ‘going to explode’ any time she would drink a glass of wine. 

She would also suffer from a tight chest.

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma is an uncommon cancer which just 2,100 Brits and 9,000 Americans are diagnosed with annually.

It develops in the lymphatic system — a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body that forms part of the immune system.

The most common symptom is a painless swelling in a lymph node — usually in the neck, armpit or groin. 

Sufferers also usually experience night sweats, unintentional weight loss and a persistent cough, as well as a fever and itchy skin.

Hodgkin lymphoma can develop at any age but those aged 20 to 40 and the over-75s are most at risk.

It is diagnosed through a biopsy of the affected lymph node tissue.

Despite being an aggressive cancer that spreads quickly, it is also one of the most treatable.

The cancer can usually be cleared with chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. 

Nine in 10 people survive for at least five years after a stage one or two diagnosis.

Meanwhile, eight in 10 live for five years or more after a stage three diagnosis, dropping to seven in 10 at stage four.

‘I got one drink, I think it was a glass of wine or something. I started drinking it and had what started as a really splitting headache. It was really odd,’ she said. 

Bewildered, Ms Fletcher though she may have developed an allergy to alcohol or if her symptoms were psychological.

In an attempt to manage the headaches, she tried a range of alcohol to see if she was allergic to a specific ingredient.

She also started to drink more on nights out — claiming that consuming multiple alcoholic drinks seemed to help the affliction go away.

Ms Fletcher said: ‘If I was going out and knew that I was going to be drinking a lot, as soon as I started drinking more (the pain) went. 

‘So everyone was encouraging me to drink more.

‘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?”.

‘You’re trying to push it down with this psychological voice in your head saying, “it’s not bad now – quickly, forget about it”.’

Nine months after she first noticed the unusual symptoms, she visited Southampton University Hospital in December after developing a persistent cough.

Following extensive tests, Ms Fletcher was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma in January.

The cancer, which just 2,100 Brits and 9,000 Americans are diagnosed with annually, develops in the lymphatic system — a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body that forms part of the immune system. 

The most common symptom is a painless swelling in a lymph node — usually in the neck, armpit or groin. Sufferers also usually experience night sweats, unintentional weight loss and a persistent cough.

But it can also trigger headaches and chest pain and studies have shown that ‘alcohol-induced pain’ is a lesser known side effect of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Despite the daunting diagnosis, Ms Fletcher said it explained her symptoms which was a ‘relief’, as she now knows that she ‘wasn’t going crazy’. 

‘The doctor thought [the headaches and chest pain were] nothing to do with [the cough]. And then when they realised it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma they found that it was linked,’ Ms Fletcher said.

She said doctors told her that alcohol ‘excites the lymph nodes’ and can trigger pain, with the reaction thought to be linked to alcohol’s high sugar content. 

Ms Fletcher said that she’s always loved partying but admits that nowadays a glass of booze isn’t always worth the immediate pain. 

Tests revealed that she actually had Hodgkin lymphoma ¿ an aggressive cancer that affects part of the immune system Tests revealed that she actually had Hodgkin lymphoma ¿ an aggressive cancer that affects part of the immune system

Tests revealed that she actually had Hodgkin lymphoma — an aggressive cancer that affects part of the immune system

Ms Fletcher, who says she has 'always loved to party', started chemotherapy this week and hopes to make a full recovery Ms Fletcher, who says she has 'always loved to party', started chemotherapy this week and hopes to make a full recovery

Ms Fletcher, who says she has ‘always loved to party’, started chemotherapy this week and hopes to make a full recovery

She is urging others with irregular symptoms to make an appointment with their GP She is urging others with irregular symptoms to make an appointment with their GP

She is urging others with irregular symptoms to make an appointment with their GP

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

Ms Fletcher said: ‘The biggest thing I’ve learned from this is that if you are worried about something, just go and get it checked out’

Despite experiencing ‘consuming’ anxiety about her diagnosis, the unsuspecting cancer victim is trying to maintain a positive outlook. 

Ms Fletcher began chemotherapy yesterday and hopes to make a full recovery.

The cancer can usually be cleared with chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. Nine in 10 people survive for at least five years after a stage one or two diagnosis.

Ms Fletcher is urging anyone experiencing unexplained symptoms to see their GP.

Ms Fletcher said: ‘The biggest thing I’ve learned from this is that if you are worried about something, just go and get it checked out.

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

‘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.

‘I think your mind automatically goes to your family, your friends and who you love.

‘You feel this sense of guilt: it’s so out of your control, you can’t do anything about it, but your family are going to rely on your health for their happiness for the next six months.

She added: ‘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.

‘I can’t really eat anything, I don’t think about anything else. I think that is quite consuming.

‘I will still have a drink if I fancy it, you’ve just got to take it day by day.

‘But sometimes, you know that the pain just isn’t worth it if you’re not going to be going hard and doing tequila shots all night.

‘It’s weird because I’ve always been a big drinker and I’ve always loved to party.

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

 

Related Posts

  • No Related Posts