A student who battled thyroid cancer claims her GP dismissed her symptoms for three years.
Rebecca Hetherington, now 29, started to lose her appetite, feel 'fluey' and endure 'constant thrush' in 2013. Sensing something was wrong, she claims she went to her GP several times throughout 2014.
Mrs Hetherington, of Newcastle, alleges she was made to feel like a 'hypochondriac' and would often cry tears of frustration during the appointments.
By the end of 2015, she noticed a small lump in her neck. The student also started vomiting, experiencing armpit pain and had night sweats so severe her bedding would be sodden.
Refusing to give up, she made another GP appointment in April 2016 and was seen by a locum doctor. The medic referred her for an ultrasound scan.
Mrs Hetherington, who is studying for a PhD in criminology, was diagnosed with stage two metastatic papillary thyroid cancer on May 17 that year. The disease had already spreading to around 40 of her lymph nodes.
The student had her thyroid gland and lymph nodes removed, and underwent radiotherapy. She is still not classified as cancer-free.
Rebecca Hetherington was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in May 2016, with the disease already spreading to around 40 of her lymph nodes. The student (pictured left before she became ill) claims she visited her GP complaining of a range of symptoms for three years. Mrs Hetherington is pictured right after having her diseased lymph nodes removed in July 2016.
In June 2017, Mrs Hetherington was found to have some cancer cells left over and required more lymph nodes to be removed. Her scar is pictured after this second operation
Speaking of her symptoms, Mrs Hetherington said: 'I started to realise something was wrong around 2013 when I started to feel "fluey" and had appetite changes.
'In 2014 I then developed constant thrush, and had skin and hair changes as well. This continued to worsen all the way up to 2016.
'I experienced weight changes, heat intolerance, night sweats, groin pain, armpit pain, neck pain, fevers, sore skin, stomach pain, regular vomiting, and developed asthma and alcohol intolerance.
'The night sweats happened quite regularly at first, weekly from around 2014 but by 2016 it was nightly. I had to change my pyjamas and bedding regularly.'
While battling these symptoms, Mrs Hetherington made regular appointments with her GP.
'I was convinced something was wrong but was regularly told there wasn't,' she said.
'For two years I was going back and forth to my GP, even when I developed a lump in my neck.
'Frustrated doesn't even cover it, I would regularly cry in my appointments because I was so confused as to why I was feeling the way I was if there was nothing wrong.
'Constantly being told it was caused by anxiety, I felt like they thought I was a nuisance and a hypochondriac.'
The lump in her neck made Mrs Hetherington particularly concerned.
'I started to notice the lump towards the end of 2015, but it became more prominent after the new year, and by May 2016 it was very visible,' she said.
'The lump looked quite flat but covered a large area of my neck, around 10cm (3.9inches) wide.'
In 2013, Mrs Hetherington (pictured before) developed 'constant thrush', as well as feeling 'fluey' and loosing her appetite. Over the next few years she endured vomiting, armpit pain and night sweats to name a few. She claims her GP made