A TEENAGER who thought she was bruised after an ice skating fall was later given the shocking truth by her mum.
Georgia Leslie, now 18, found a small red lump in the middle of her right rib cage when she was 15-years-old.
She and doctors assumed it was the result of an enthusiastic skating session, despite a lump the size of an orange developing.
Eventually, Georgia’s worried mum, Kate, 36, who is a nurse, asked a doctor colleague to take a look.
Kate ended up giving Georgia the truth that same day – that Georgia was feared to have cancer.
Georgia, who lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire, first saw the lump on her right side when she leant on a table and it felt uncomfortable.
She said: “It only felt sore and looked red, so I looked to see if anything had irritated it and showed it to my mum, who is a nurse.
“We thought we’d keep an eye on it, but then it started to grow so fast it was five times bigger in just two months, so we went to see the doctor.”
The GP suspected the lump had resulted from damaging the bone in the area and asked Georgia if she had done anything that could have injured one of her ribs.
She said: “The only thing I could think of was ice skating, because I was going every Saturday.
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"I skated with my friends, but I’d also been on a rollercoaster, so wondered if that had caused some damage without me realising it.”
Georgia was told by the doctor to come back if the pain worsened, which she did two months later.
She was sent to the hospital in Huddersfield for tests and scans – but her results looked fine, so Georgia carried on with revising for her upcoming GCSEs.
She booked into an adventure programme as a treat when her exams finished – which is when she realised something was very wrong.
During the trip in the summer of 2019, she recalled: “I was trying to put a safety harness on to do one of the activities and I couldn’t because the lump was just too big and it was too painful.
“It was now the size of an orange. I knew that wasn’t right and that it wasn’t getting better on its own."
When she saw her GP once more, they were concerned in case Georgia had broken a rib, but the she had no memory of any injury so severe.
That's when mum Kate asked a bone specialist at work to help out.
And by the end of that same day, Georgia’s mum had the devastating truth.
Georgia, who also lives with football coach dad, Richard, 40, and sister Rebecca, 14, said: “My mum came to find me in the hospital and said, 'I think we’d better go home’.
"I knew she should have been working until later that evening, so I asked her to tell me there and then what the doctor had said.
“She told me he thought it was tumour. I burst into tears. I didn’t know what that meant.”
After being sent for more scans at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, it was confirmed that Georgia’s lump was a tumour.
After a biopsy, in January 2020 – nearly a year since the lump was first spotted – Georgia was told she had osteosarcoma of a high grade.
It’s the most common cancer that starts in the bones, typically occurring in children and young adults.
Bone cancer generally is rare, diagnosed around 550 times a year in the UK. The main symptoms include bone pain, swelling, redness and a lump.
Georgia said: “I remember being with my mum and my grandad in the waiting room and watching people walking down the corridor.
"You can tell who had been given good news and who must have been given bad news, because you could see they were really upset.
“We went into a room to get the results of the biopsy and the first thing I saw was that the nurse was wearing a lanyard that said ‘Macmillan Nurse’.
“The doctor then told us they were 98 per cent sure my lump was cancer.
“I asked the doctors, 'Am I going to die?' I was in tears and just asked, 'Is it bad?'”
Georgia immediately started chemotherapy which was followed by major and painful surgery in May 2020 to remove the tumour.
Georgia tried to keep up her A level studies, but the chemotherapy over most of 2020 made her so tired she had to stop.
Thankfully, Georgia is now cancer-free, but admits she worries the cancer will return.
She said: “It is a constant in my life, so however much I’d like it to go away, it is always there and I think about it every day."
After returning to college in September 2021, she now plans to train as a specialist cancer nurse, and is taking every opportunity life throws at her.
She said: “I recently got a job at McDonalds which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I never thought I’d have the courage to go for something like that.
“Before I had cancer, I’d have been too nervous.”
Georgia is urging other people to ask for help “and don’t stop until you get it” if you are worried about symptoms.
Cancer in teens and young adults
According to the Teenage Cancer Trust, these are the seven common signs of cancer in 13-24 year olds.
- Unexplained tiredness
- Persistent pain
- Serious weight loss
- Mole changes
None of these symptoms mean you definitely have cancer, but it is important to get checked.
The charity says every day in the UK seven young people aged between 13 and 24 are told they have cancer.
But seven in 10 young people (18-24) are unable to identify the five main warning signs of cancer.
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