- A 14-year-old girl’s symptoms were dismissed as an “unusual” abscess. Her health continued to decline until she finally got her true diagnosis: leukemia.
- Leukemia is a blood cancer that develops when the body produces large quantities of abnormal white blood cells. These cells prevent the bone marrow from producing any other type of cell.
- In a more general sense, blood cancer means that your bone marrow isn’t functioning properly.
Katie Wilkins began to experience “unbearable” pains in June 2020 when she was visiting her sister in London, England. She was taken to the local accident and emergency department (A&E), and doctors there claimed to have found an “unusual abscess,” so they prescribed the teenager a course of antibiotics.Read More
Her pain only got worse. She began to experience “shooting” pains in her abdomen, which stopped her from sleeping at night and prompted five more hospital visits.
Once at the hospital again, Katie was given a Pediatric Early Warning Score (PEWS), which identifies pediatric patients at risk for clinical deterioration. She was given a score of two, but it was allegedly mistakenly recorded at one.
The teenager was given a bed at the hospital this time around, and she and her family were told there was a possibility of surgery the next day, however, she was discharged instead with no blood work taken.
Just a few days later, Katie collapsed at home. She was rushed back to the hospital where she and her family were told the real cause of her symptoms: she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a rare type of blood cancer.
Katie was in the hospital for just a few days when she suffered an intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the skull) and, after surgery, she was declared brain dead.
A recent inquest found that her death could’ve been prevented; her death was avoidable. (In the United Kingdom, an inquest is an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a person’s death, such as how, when and where they died in order for their death to be registered.)
Leukemia is a blood cancer that develops when the body produces large quantities of abnormal white blood cells. These cells prevent the bone marrow from producing any other type of cell, including red blood cells and platelets.
“One cell got really selfish and decided that it needed to take up all the resources of everybody else, and, in doing so, took up space and energy from the rest of the body,” Dr. Nina Shah, a hematologist at University of California San Francisco, previously told SurvivorNet.
In a more general sense, blood cancer means that your bone marrow isn’t functioning properly.
“And when your bone marrow doesn’t function correctly, it means that you can have something happen to you like anemia,” Dr. Shah said. “Or you can have low platelets, which makes it possible for you to bleed easily. Or your immune system is not functioning correctly.”
Symptoms of leukemia can vary depending on the type of leukemia. Common signs and symptoms of the disease include:
- Fever or chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Losing weight without trying
- Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
These signs and symptoms aren’t exclusive to leukemia, but if you notice them or any other changes to your health, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Contributing: Abigail Seaberg