A man who thought he had long Covid found out he was actually battling leukaemia.
Robert Hale, 32, was struck down with coronavirus last February but even after a few weeks he still had low energy.
He visited doctors who said he had fatigue and said one gave him a ‘’huge lecture’’ about his eating habits and the need to eat more fibre - including broccoli.
But aerospace worker Robert, of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, noticed a strange rash and he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Initially he was given just weeks to live, but it turned out his sister was a match for a bone marrow transplant, and now he is in remission.
‘Long Covid was being advertised everywhere, and my symptoms fit’
He said: ‘’I had no appetite and no energy to do much aside from work and sleep.
“The doctor’s gave me a huge lecture about how I wasn’t eating enough and needed more fiber in my diet.
“I was then called about 24 hours later by the doctors where I was told I had a vitamin B deficiency, and was given another lecture about eating more broccoli.
“I was napping a lot at work. Probably about two or three times a day.
“At the time, long Covid was being advertised everywhere and all my symptoms fit the condition to a T - so I just left it for two months, until one day my back was really itchy.
“I showed my parents, and my dad urged I see a doctor immediately.”
The doctor’s completed a blood test and asked Robert a series of lifestyle questions.
‘I never would have guessed it was cancer’
A few days later, Robert was told he has leukaemia.
He said: “I left it so long as I just assumed it was long Covid because it was the biggest thing on the news.
“I found myself being put off going to the doctors because I didn’t want to burden them or catch something. In 100 years I never would have guessed it was cancer.
“So go see a doctor and get yourself checked. I got lucky the doctors picked it up eventually. If I left it a couple more weeks I wouldn’t be here.”
Robert was sent to chemotherapy where he was told he had two/three weeks left to live.
As part of his treatment, Robert required a bone marrow transplant and as it turned out, his sister was an 100% match.
Robert has been in and out of hospital for months after also suffering a stroke which almost left him paralysed.
‘Even if I get a cold it could be deadly’
As a way of dealing with everything, Robert started an Instagram account - @robs_cancer_journey - to document his journey, which ended up becoming his own support network.
“Because of Covid, all of the hospital support groups stopped running.
“So, Instagram became a kind of online therapy group. You could find someone else’s story of a similar situation, or they find yours and you both reach out.
“The more I knew about my condition, the better I felt.
“One of the toughest things is the isolation. I haven’t seen a lot of my friends since April last year. There’s only so much Netflix one person can watch!
“A lot of people think isolating for 10 days is bad enough, but try over two years.
“When I read about people who are sick and tired of the Covid rules, asking ‘why should I wear a mask?’, I’m sat here thinking the restrictions are there to protect people like me, not you.
“Despite being - fingers crossed - rid of the cancer now, the possibility of living another five years with the transplant is quite slim.
“The doctors say I have the immune system of a baby, and even if I get a cold it could be deadly.”
Two weeks ago his test results came back all clear, but he’s waiting for more results to clarify the cancer has gone from his body.
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