Young mum-of-two talks of 'terrifying' cancer journey after she was misdiagnosed

Radhika, from Leicester, with one of her children
-Credit: (Image: Radhika Thakrar)

A young mum-of-two from Leicester has described her “terrifying” cancer ordeal after being misdiagnosed for nine months. Radhika Thakrar noticed an alarming lump on her neck that turned out to be a rare Sarcoma cancer after it was initially diagnosed as a thyroid issue.

The HSBC project manager said she endured a “nightmarish ordeal of multiple scans and treatments” for a suspected thyroid condition, all while the lump continued to grow “alarmingly”. Radhika first noticed her lump just weeks after giving birth to her second child.

It eventually grew to 12.5cm before it was removed. Now, Radhika has called for more awareness around the symptoms of rare and aggressive sarcoma cancers.

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The 35-year-old's “terrifying” nine-month ordeal began in February 2022 when she noticed the lump in her neck. In March that year, Radhika went to the doctor and got an appointment on the same day.

Despite her GP's referral for an urgent ENT (ear, nose, and throat) evaluation, she was told that due to Covid backlogs, there would be a wait of approximately five months for an appointment. However, Radhika’s private health insurance allowed her to be evaluated the same day by a doctor, who diagnosed a thyroid issue and prescribed continued appointments and fine needle aspirations, a biopsy to collect cells for sampling, to get her a diagnosis.

Believing something was not right with the lump, Radhika sought a second opinion from another consultant, who ordered an MRI and CT scan. This time, the NHS raised the possibility of cancer but ruled out sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of the disease.

Surgery was scheduled for December 12, 2022, to address the suspected thyroid problem. However, just days before the operation, the sarcoma specialist team in Nottingham intervened, confirming Radhika’s diagnosis of liposarcoma, a cancer that starts in the fat cells.

Radhika on a billboard in Bradford for Sarcoma UK
Radhika on a billboard in Bradford for Sarcoma UK -Credit:Supplied

They referred her for surgery with the specialist team and on December 28th, nine months after her initial symptoms, Radhika underwent surgery to remove the 12.5cm tumour from her neck.

Reflecting on her journey, Radhika said: "Those nine months were absolutely terrifying. I knew something was seriously wrong, but I felt like I was constantly being dismissed or misdiagnosed. The uncertainty and fear were overwhelming, especially with two young children depending on me.

“I'm incredibly grateful to the sarcoma team, who really supported and looked after me. We need more awareness about sarcoma, both among the public and medical professionals, so others don't have to go through the hell I experienced."

July is Sarcoma Awareness Month and Sarcoma UK is highlighting the ‘Days to Diagnosis”. For this, Radhika is appearing on billboards around the country.

According to Sarcoma UK, one in three people wait more than six months for an accurate diagnosis of sarcoma. Although an uncommon cancer, accounting for less than 1% of all cancer diagnoses, 15 people are diagnosed with sarcoma cancer every day in the UK.

Sarcoma UK’s chief executive Richard Davidson said: "Radhika's harrowing nine-month journey to diagnosis underscores the critical need for swifter and more accurate sarcoma detection. These rare cancers, often mistaken for benign conditions, can grow to life-threatening sizes when left undiagnosed.

“At Sarcoma UK, we're intensifying our efforts to educate healthcare professionals and fund innovative diagnostic research. Our goal is clear: to ensure that no one faces the prolonged uncertainty and fear that Radhika endured and to significantly improve outcomes for sarcoma patients across the UK."

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