'I have three children who need me' - Mam, 32, faces second blood cancer battle after devastating relapse

A mam-of-three has been given the devastating news that her blood cancer has returned – just eight months after being told she was in remission from the illness.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 5:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:16 pm

Ashleigh Palmer, 32, is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for a second time after discovering her cancer had come back in a phone call with her consultant on Friday, February 26.

The Washington mam had felt that something was ‘not right’ in December 2020, after suffering from severe itchiness all over her body.

She also found that even just a sip of alcohol caused extreme chest pain.

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Ashleigh Palmer with her husband Stewart and children Travis, nine Austin, five, and Felicity, three.
Ashleigh Palmer with her husband Stewart and children Travis, nine Austin, five, and Felicity, three.

During a routine phone call with her doctor in January, Ashleigh says she wasn’t completely honest about her health because she was worried that her worst fears would be confirmed.

But as symptoms persisted, Ashleigh contacted her specialist nurse who booked her in for a PET scan at Sunderland Royal Hospital on January 26.

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A biopsy followed on February 23 and just days later Ashleigh was told her cancer had returned.

Ashleigh Palmer with daughter Felicity, three.

"When I was told it was back I went through all the emotions,” she said.

Ashleigh was initially diagnosed with stage 2 Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in August 2019 after discovering a painless lump on her collar bone.

She began chemotheraphy at Sunderland Royal Hospital and nearly a year later, in June 2020, was told she was in complete remission.

Ashleigh is staying strong for her children Travis, nine, Austin, five, and Felicity, three.

The next step will see her spend more than 20 days in hospital as she undergoes an autologous stem cell transplant, meaning her own cells will be used.

Ashleigh, who also battled Covid-19 in January, hopes her story will also encourage others with concerns to get checked out and not be put off by the pandemic.

"The treatment is going to be worse this time, but at the end of the day I don’t have a choice,” she said.

"It’s not about being strong or brave.

"I have to be thankful that there are options available to me and there's a very good chance of cure.”

Ashleigh, who is mum to Travis, nine, Austin, five, and Felicity, three, continued: "I'm not just fighting for my own life, I'm fighting to be the mam of three very important people.

"They mean more to me than anything else in the world.”

Ashleigh’s stem cell treatment means she doesn’t need a donor, but if she was to relapse again she could need to find one.

Her own experience has led her to learning about the DKMS stem cell register where people can sign up to be stem cell donors by taking a simple postal swab test.

"Some people are desperate for a donor,” Ashleigh said.

"Signing up to the DKMS register is so simple and you could save someone’s life if you are a match.”

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