Young fitness instructor shares strange first symptoms after cancer diagnosis

Cancer Research UK provide details on lymphoma

In September 2021, Lily Venus was teaching six exercise classes a week via Zoom when she started “experiencing this strange light-headedness”.

Not thinking much of it, the young fitness instructor also felt fatigued.

“I would nap at least once a day, and waking up in the morning was difficult regardless of how much sleep I’d gotten,” Lily told Southern Daily Echo.

By November of the same year, Lily and her partner, Ryan, drove to York to pick up their new puppy.

“On the drive, I had an awkward feeling in my neck. It felt like I had slept funny,” Lily recalled.

“My symptoms continued for the next week, but I still was under the impression that I was just exhausted due to the new puppy and exercise.”

Lily believed her ongoing neck pain might be caused by a pulled muscle.

“At the end of that week, I had a lump come up just above my collarbone,” Lily remembered.

“The discomfort was preventing me from being able to teach the upper-body parts of my exercise classes, so I booked a doctor’s appointment.”

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Told to visit A&E, Lily thought her doctor was “overreacting”, but she followed the advice.

Two weeks later Lily was told she had stage four Hodgkin lymphoma – a type of blood cancer.

“I was told I had the option to have my chemotherapy at the teenage and young adult unit at Southampton Hospital,” Lily said.

“This was so lucky. I was only two months away from my 25th birthday.”

The fast-growing cancer was first treated before Christmas in 2021, which involved 12 rounds of chemotherapy spread over six months.

Now in remission, Lily sees her oncologist every three months for blood tests and a check-up.

The relapse for Hodgkin lymphoma most commonly occurs within the first two years, said Lily.

Stage four Hodgkin lymphoma

Cancer Research UK explains stage four Hodgkins lymphoma means:

  • Your lymphoma is in an extranodal site and lymph nodes are affected
  • Your lymphoma is in more than one extranodal site, for example the liver, bones or lungs.

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma may include:

  • Painless swelling in a lymph node
  • Heavy sweating, especially at night
  • High temperatures that come and go with no obvious cause, often overnight
  • Losing a lot of weight over a short period of time, despite eating well
  • Itching, which may be worse after drinking alcohol
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Tummy (abdominal) pain or vomiting after drinking alcohol.
  • If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your GP.

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