Sheffield doctors give Jak, 24, the all-clear from rare blood cancer

A 24-year old diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer has been given the all-clear from the disease following treatment at a specialist Sheffield blood cancer unit.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 10:00 am

Former personal trainer Jak Thompson, of Broomhall, who prides himself on living a healthy, active lifestyle, first started noticing symptoms in September 2019 including skin rashes and a lump in his neck.

By February Jak started to feel “ridiculously tired” and he was also suffering with a worsening cough. The lump he had noticed had grown.

It wasn’t until March, however, that he started to question whether it was cancer.

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Jak Thompson: from left, the lump on his neck, how he looks today and his first scan before chemotherapy

“You hear the horrible stories of people getting diagnosed with a life-changing illness but you never expect it to happen to you,” said Jak.

I thought it must just be an infection, I can’t have cancer, but the paranoia started to settle in so I left the gym and walked to the NHS walk-in clinic.”

With the country in lockdown, a video call assessment was made to check his lump and Jak was referred for an urgent scan after some inflammatory markers were found in his bloods.

A biopsy confirmed his diagnosis and he was given the devastating news that he had stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma, the most advanced form of the rare, fast-growing blood cancer.

“My head literally went to the floor,” said the recruitment consultant.

Jak then underwent 12 sessions of chemotherapy at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, receiving four different types of chemotherapy drugs.

A teenage and young adult nurse specialist from the haematology team visited him at home to take his bloods before the chemo.

Jak continued to work out during when he felt able to with the support of Weston Park Cancer Charity who contributed to the funding of gym equipment that he could use in his flat.

Five weeks after his final chemotherapy session in November, Jak received the amazing news that there were no longer any signs of cancer.

“It was just the best moment of my life. Knowing it had gone, that I didn’t have to worry, that I could tell my partner, family and friends that they needn’t be fearful for my life; it was just so invigorating,” Jak said.

Emma Clarke, director of services and grant-giving at Weston Park Cancer Charity, said: “A cancer diagnosis at any time is extremely tough, but Covid has made it especially hard for young people like Jak.

"His positive attitude to his treatment has been truly inspirational and as a specialist cancer charity we were delighted to support him in continuing to maintain his fitness during his treatment by providing him with a small grant which he could put towards buying some weights.

"This is just one example of how we’ve adapted our services and grant-giving during the pandemic so that we can continue to be there, at every step, for patients and families facing cancer.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is a specialist centre for the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers, including Hodgkin Lymphoma. Hodgkin Lymphoma is most common in young adults in their early 20s and those over 70.

To give or get support from Weston Park Cancer Charity visit westonpark.org.uk or call 0114 553 3330.

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