Schoolgirl, 14, diagnosed her own cancer by Googling symptoms on way to hospital

A schoolgirl diagnosed her own cancer by Googling the symptoms on her way to hospital.

Amelia Johnson, who was 14 at the time, had been feeling unwell and her GP said she might be suffering from iron deficiency but ordered blood tests.

When the results came back and an ambulance turned up unexpectedly at her house, worried Amelia then sat in the back researching on her smartphone. Eventually, the concerned teen turned to her mum and said: "I think I've got cancer."

Earlier that day Amelia's parents had taken her to the GP as they were concerned about the bruising on her skin.

Less than 12 hours later the family were dramatically awoken in the middle of the night at their home in Stockton, County Durham, by the ambulance crew who had been instructed to take the teenager straight to hospital.

Amelia's dad, Mike Johnson, 47, said: "We couldn't believe what was happening. We were all fast asleep and woke up to an ambulance at our door.

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"The ambulance staff weren't able to tell us why Amelia had to go in which was terrifying, but on the way there Amelia Googled her symptoms and said to my wife Kelly 'I think I've got cancer'."

Mr Johnson, who works as operations director at a foreign currency exchange company, added: "Sure enough we got to North Tees Hospital and were told the blood tests showed Amelia had Acute myeloid leukaemia and that she needed to start treatment immediately.

"By 9am we had been transferred to the Newcastle RVI and she began chemotherapy, she was in hospital for the next 10 days."

Amelia, now 15 and a pupil at Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy, in Stockton, continued her treatment despite the pandemic and was in and out of hospital during each chemotherapy cycle but has now been given the all clear.

Her mum, Kelly, 41, said: "The side effects of her treatment have been really difficult for her.

"Not only did she lose her hair, which was incredibly tough for a beautiful young girl to go through, but she suffered excruciating pain and infections. There were a couple of times we thought we were going to lose her. To see your daughter going through that and not been able to do anything other than to cuddle and support her was terrible."

Mike and Kelly, would take it in turns looking after Amelia at the hospital while the other one would stay at home with their youngest daughter Isabella, 10, and Kelly's parents also moved in to help.

Amelia, a keen dancer who lost almost a stone during the her treatment, said: "My first and biggest fear was losing my hair, so when I was told by my consultant that hair loss will happen I was very upset and cried a lot.

"The day the remainder of my hair was shaved off I was relieved as it was a mess. I have learnt to live without hair now and don't get upset as much as I used to. I have many wigs that are very convincing and my hair is now growing back slowly."

After six gruelling months of chemotherapy, Amelia has now completed her treatment and started back at school last week in Year 11 after being absent since January, and feels ready to 'get back to normal' life.

She's been given the all clear but will continue to have monthly blood tests and is awaiting surgery to remove her Hickman line, which was used to administer treatment.

Amelia and her family are now encouraging the public to help more children and young people survive cancer by donating any pre-loved quality clothing, accessories and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store.

When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could raise up to £25 to help fund research into children's and young people's cancers.

Amelia's dad said: "It's thanks to research which has created successful treatment options that Amelia is here today.

"That's why supporting Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is so important to us – especially as the coronavirus pandemic has hit charities so hard."

Lisa Millett, North East spokesperson for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People, said: "We're grateful to Amelia and the Johnson family for their support. COVID-19 has slowed us down, but we will never stop.

"We want to help more children and young people survive cancer with a good quality of life. So, we hope as many people as possible will help to get our life-saving research back on track by donating any quality clothes or goods at their local TK Maxx store."

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