A 20-year-old college student was told by her doctor that she had heartburn from too many parties. She now she is fighting for her life.
A college student diagnosed with “alcohol-induced heartburn” was horrified to discover that she actually had incurable cancer.
“It literally turned my life upside down,” Georgia Ford, 20, told Kennedy News of the misdiagnosis gone terribly wrong. “I went from being a full-fledged college student in a few weeks to being in the hospital as a cancer patient.”
The native of Gloucester, England specifically has a rare cancer called papillary renal cell carcinoma, which involves a tumor arising from his kidneys that has metastasized to the lungs, liver, lymph nodes and bones.
Ford initially reported to the doctor after feeling sick from heartburn – a symptom of acid reflux – and then asked her about her drinking habits.
“They said to me, ‘Do you drink a lot?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, of course I know,’ so they put me on these stomach lining protective tablets, ”recalled Ford, who studied law at the University of Exeter.
She became suspicious of the doctor’s diagnosis during her home visit, and although she did not drink during her stay, her symptoms remained.
When the pills didn’t work, her doctors would attribute her discomfort to a different and indifferent affection related to back pain she had been suffering from since August 2020. Hospitals then misdiagnosed it as muscle spasms.
“I put my back pain in bad posture or sleeping positions,” Ford said. “I always slumped and sat in a fun way.”
Ford later realized that this was not the case. In October 2021, his back pain flared up again – “obviously in hindsight” a sign of kidney problems, he said. The scholar was so injured that he could not lie down.
But her “main symptom,” Ford noted to Kennedy News, was a cough so severe it would have caught her breath and made her throw up.
“I had coughed so much that I would have ended up sick,” said the patient. “That was when I started losing weight because I wasn’t keeping food very well.”
Despite a buffet of alarming symptoms, doctors still didn’t believe the aspiring lawyer had a serious condition.
“I went to my doctor for this a number of times,” Ford said. “Every time we tried something new and it didn’t work and I would go back and try something else.”
She added: “They basically said it was all in my head and I wasn’t sick at all. I said, ‘I can’t believe I have so many severe symptoms and it’s all in my head.’
Ford eventually showed up in the ER after her cough got so bad that she struggled to walk long distances or climb stairs. He also started coughing up blood. And while examiners found “cloudy spots” on her lungs, doctors assured Ford it was “nothing life-threatening,” she said.
However, she was put on a three-month referral to respiratory experts even as her condition worsened rapidly, with the loss of more than 20 pounds.
Left with nowhere else to turn, Ford booked an appointment with a private practice doctor in November 2021, who eventually diagnosed her with PRCC.
About 79,000 new cases of kidney (renal) cancer will be diagnosed this year in the United States alone. Most commonly seen in adults 55 years of age and older, PRCC affects 15 percent of kidney cancer patients, causing symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, fever, and bloody urine, according to the National Institutes of Health.
By the time Ford’s cancer was detected, it had already spread throughout his body, causing a host of other symptoms, such as his mysterious cough.
His condition, he would learn what “incurable”.
“There are very few times in my life that I have been speechless … words have completely escaped me,” Ford said the moment he learned his diagnosis. “It’s just like this overwhelming sadness.”
In an attempt to curb the cancer, the patient began immunotherapy, including daily tablets and intravenous (IV) treatment. He also takes portable oxygen tanks whenever he goes out and uses an oxygen tube at night to help with breathing.
Ford says his goal is to “live normally” and feel good enough to resume his law studies in September. He also launched a GoFundMe fundraiser for two charities dedicated to fighting the PRCC.
Despite his positive outlook, Ford says he can’t help but speculate whether his prognosis would be different if doctors had contracted the disease earlier.
“I don’t know how much more sick I got around that time and if, if she was caught a little earlier, my story might be a little different,” she said. “It’s one of those questions I’ll never know, but I always ask myself.”
Ford now hopes to use his ordeal as a warning to highlight the dangers of not listening to your body.
“If you think something is wrong, you have to push and push,” he said.
This article was originally published by New York post and reproduced with permission
Originally published as “My doctor said I had heartburn from the holidays – now I’m fighting for my life”