Local woman and social media star helps raise awareness of Hodgkin Lymphoma this Blood Cancer Awareness Month
Posted 23rd September 2022
Local make-up artist April Grierson, now 21 from the Belle Vale area of Liverpool, saw the sharing of her cancer journey at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre go viral after documenting her journey on the social media platform TikTok.
April first noticed something was wrong when at 20, during the pandemic lockdown, she suffered from night sweats, her skin became increasingly itchy and after unsuccessful treatment for suspected scabies, she noticed a lump on her neck that she knew had to be connected.
“As soon as I noticed the lump on my neck and that it was growing, I knew that my other symptoms were more than initially thought.
“I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma the same day as going for further tests and as soon as they said that my boyfriend could come into the hospital – which wasn’t allowed at the time due to Covid – I knew it was bad news.”
April underwent IVF egg retrieval at Liverpool Women’s Hospital before starting chemotherapy which could affect her future fertility and unfortunately had to stay in hospital for two weeks after experiencing OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) which is a rare side effect of fertility treatment and caused fluid to collect on her lungs.
April continued, “It was quite a rocky journey before even beginning my chemotherapy treatment but I was determined to stay positive which I think definitely helped. I knew my own strength and knew I could get through it – if I had to watch my now fiancé, family or friends go through it, I don’t think I would’ve coped so well!
“Everyone at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre was amazing – they were so supportive and understanding every step of the way.
“When I first started documenting my journey online, I never expected to receive the response I did. I got about five million views and
thousands of likes for my first video – I had to turn all my notifications off as I couldn’t keep up! It was strange but nice in a way to be able to share my experience and hopefully help other people going through similar.”
April underwent 12 cycles of chemotherapy on the Teenage and Young Adult Unit in The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre - Liverpool which provides care for around 100 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 every year. The TYA unit gives young people the opportunity to get to know one another with communal social spaces, peer-to-peer support and group events.
Professor Nagesh Kalakonda, Consultant Haemato-Oncologist at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a fairly rare form of blood cancer that commonly affects lymph nodes. It affects people between the age of 15 and 35 and often presents with prominent lymph nodes, unintentional weight loss, night sweats, persistent itching and breathing problems.
“April presented with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was treated at the TYA unit in our new hospital in Liverpool. Our TYA service provides clinical and much needed psychosocial support to patients between the ages of 16 and 24. Treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma in this age group is highly effective with chemotherapy leading to cures, though the treatment is not without side effects that need careful management.
“To her credit, April was always incredibly positive throughout her treatment and I know has inspired many others across the world by sharing her journey.
“We all wish her the best in her continued recovery and rehabilitation into life and society.”Find out more about April’s story and treatment as she hosts a takeover of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s social media channels on Tuesday 27th September 2022.