A young woman says she was misdiagnosed three times before being told she had rare bone cancer.
Doctors first told Sarah-Jane Wilson that the pain in her leg and knee was caused by tendonitis.
The medics then thought the 27-year-old had a shin splint before believing it was Osgood-Schlatter.
It wasn’t until a private physiotherapist forced her to undergo an MRI that she was found to be suffering from a rare form of bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma, Coventry Live reports.
Sarah is from Nuneaton, Warwickshire and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
After completion, she will have surgery to replace her knee and part of her tibia.
She explained that the horrendous situation had been going on for over a year, and it all started with the first call to her doctors at Grange Medical Center.
“I’ve had pain in my knees and you know you just brush things off and don’t think about it,” she said.
“Well, it got to the point where I couldn’t walk or kneel properly, so when I first called the doctors, I was diagnosed over the phone. I was diagnosed with tendinitis. go swim.”
The pain didn’t go away – it got to the point where she couldn’t walk, so she went to the emergency room at George Eliot Hospital.
“He (the doctor) told me that I had a split shin and that I should not have gone to the emergency room,” she said.
“I googled shin splints and I don’t run, you link it to running so I was like, ok.
But the pain continued, and Sarah-Jane found herself back in the emergency room after a fall.
“They took an x-ray and said it was Osgood-Schlatter syndrome, which teenage boys get when they play football,” she explained.
“They showed me the X-ray and said ‘Yes, definitely Osgood-Schlatter, here’s some painkillers, go swim and it will heal on its own and you’ll get physical therapy.’
So she called her doctors to make an appointment with a physical therapist, but was told she would have to wait a few weeks, so her job, BT OpenReach, got her to a private physical therapist.
“She (the physiotherapist) said, ‘This is not Osgood-Schlatter, this is not healing, it is not getting smaller, something is reacting to it,’” added Sarah-Jane.
“At this point, I could barely walk, my leg was swollen and hot to the touch.”
The physical therapist wrote a letter to her doctors saying she needed an MRI — and it was this intervention that allowed her to finally figure out what was wrong.
An MRI revealed that she had an aggressive and rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma.
She has two tumors, one in her tibia and one on the side, just below her knee.
“It’s so aggressive that they were concerned that it had spread,” she said.
“I had so many scans and had two surgeries within a month because chemo would make me infertile.”
Chemotherapy is especially invasive. Sarah Jane sits for five consecutive days for six hours each day, undergoing chemotherapy.
She has a week break, and then the treatment starts again.
“It (cancer) can get into all your fragile bones – pelvis, fingers, toes, ankles – fortunately, for some reason it stayed in my leg,” she said.
But her ordeal won’t end when she’s finished nine rounds of chemotherapy as she’s going to have major surgery.
“If it has shrunk enough, I will have to replace a whole new knee and half of the tibia,” she said.
“Then more chemo to make sure it didn’t go away, then after the second round, surgery to remove my foot because all my nerves had died in my leg. So my leg is completely dead.”
Cancer is so rare that the only place she can get treatment is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
“They are really amazing, I have never known anything like this, everyone in the oncology department is so nice,” she said.
But the battle takes its toll.
She said, “It’s hard, especially when you’re there for five days. The first few days you feel “okay, you did it”, but on the third and fourth day you are just absolutely exhausted from everything. It.”
The diagnosis, after it was previously reported that she had three different types of sports injuries, devastated Sarah-Jane and her family.
“My family is in shock, no one expected this,” she said.
“My grandma said she would take it off me in the blink of an eye. We just survived breast cancer with my mom through Covid, it was hard, now it’s me. It’s hard”.
She urged anyone with health complaints and who feel they are not being taken seriously to get a second opinion.
“You trust doctors, you trust they will take care of you, but I would say that if it doesn’t heal or get better, you need to get a second opinion,” she said.
“You never know what it might be.”
A spokesman for George Eliot Hospital said: “We are sorry to hear about Ms Wilson’s experience.
“We are unable to comment on the individual’s care and treatment, but we invite Ms. Wilson to contact us so we can continue to investigate her concerns.”
While Sarah is focused on fighting cancer, her fiancé James Gould has decided to take on his own challenge in her honor for the Bone Cancer Foundation.
Next year he is going to cycle from Vietnam to Cambodia, which is a feat in itself, but even more so for someone who is not into cycling.
“We realized how little funding for bone cancer is compared to other cancers, so I told James, ‘We should try to do something,’ and he found this (the bike test) on the Internet,” she said.
“He said, ‘You know what I’m going to do. He also absolutely hates cycling, but he’s going to do it.”
James, who also works for BT OpenReach, said Sarah’s courage and the fact that the charity is in need of funds and awareness inspired him to get into the saddle.
“That’s six days of cycling, and you end up with about 350 miles,” said James, who has worked with Sarah for nearly nine years.
“There is a 20-week training plan, but for me, since I don’t like cycling, training starts right now.
“There were a lot of options (challenge to complete) but I wanted something that would challenge me and cycling is my least favorite so I thought that was the biggest challenge for me.
“There were other challenges, like climbing Everest, but that’s what I would have liked, so I decided to do it.”
“Most people have told me that I am crazy, but everyone supports me,” added the 33-year-old.
“I haven’t done anything on this scale before, but it’s something I always wanted to do before, but I never had the inspiration or the courage to do it.
Obviously, with everything that’s happened to Sarah, there’s simply no better time for this.
“It’s supporting such a good cause, it’s one of the rarest cancers so the funding for it isn’t very high and the awareness of bone cancer itself is very low.”
He hopes to raise at least £4,000 ahead of his charity competition next February.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so through the fundraising page here.