The Itchy Skin that Turned Out to be Cancer: A Makeup Artist’s Journey

We all experience little aches and itches from time to time. But what happens when something more sinister hides behind these seemingly harmless symptoms? April Grierson, a 20-year-old makeup artist from Liverpool, discovered that her persistent itchy skin was not just a result of changing laundry detergent, but a sign of something far more serious – cancer.

Something’s Not Right…

It all started in June of the previous year when April began experiencing constant itching. At first, she thought it was a reaction to her new laundry detergent. But even after switching brands, her symptoms persisted. April even sent her dog away temporarily, suspecting an allergic reaction to her pet. But no matter what she tried, the itching wouldn’t go away. That’s when she decided to seek medical advice from her doctor.

To her dismay, April’s doctor initially misdiagnosed her with scabies after a series of phone consultations. She was prescribed creams and tablets to treat the condition. However, as time passed, a lump appeared on her neck, prompting her doctors to refer her to a hospital. That’s when the shocking truth was revealed – April was fighting cancer.

In November 2021, April was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. She took to TikTok to share her diagnosis with the world, and her video gained incredible traction, with over 5.1 million views and 553,600 likes.

Trusting Her Instincts

Looking back on her misdiagnosis, April knew deep down that something wasn’t right. “I had this sense that something was wrong,” she shared. Despite her concerns, she had previously confided in her mother about her fear of having cancer, which her mother attributed to anxiety. But April persisted and trusted her own instincts.

“I’m so glad I kept going back to the doctors. I knew my own body. My skin itched day and night from my head to my feet. I was tearing at my skin. I couldn’t sleep, and I was making myself bleed, I was red raw,” she revealed.


I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a while – to prepare people going through the same thing, as I wish I was prepared ! ❤️ #cancer #cancerjourney #chemotherapy #abvd #cancerfighter #cancerawareness #HowDoYouMist #fyp #viral #cancersurvivor #facts #spreadingawareness

♬ Photograph – Ed Sheeran

April had multiple remote consultations with a general practitioner who prescribed creams and tablets for what they believed was scabies. But April knew deep down that it couldn’t be scabies, as it’s highly contagious and her boyfriend hadn’t caught it. “I couldn’t get a face-to-face appointment because of Covid, so I kept sending more pictures. But the doctors said I had no rash or typical skin marks for them to make a diagnosis,” she explained.

Then, in October, April discovered a lump in her neck that grew rapidly. Within three weeks, she had an appointment at a specialist head and neck center, where she received the devastating news that she had cancer. Blood tests, CT scans, and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of blood cancer and a tumor on her neck.

Love and Support Through the Storm

During April’s four-hour appointment at the specialist center, her fiancé, Sean O’Flaherty, waited anxiously in the car. He wanted to find out what was really going on after her misdiagnosis. But it wasn’t until he was allowed inside that the couple received the life-altering news. “I knew as soon as Sean was allowed in that it was cancer. And I was so scared and just cried and cried. I couldn’t believe I had to drive home and tell my parents I had cancer. I was devastated,” she emotionally revealed.

Further examinations revealed that April was dealing with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her treatment involved six months of chemotherapy in two-week intervals. The aim was to destroy the cancer, which had spread from a lymph node in her neck to her chest and the area around her windpipe.

A Second Battle: Preserving Fertility

On top of her cancer diagnosis, April faced yet another challenge. Before starting chemotherapy, she underwent egg retrieval to preserve her future fertility. Unfortunately, this procedure resulted in complications. The fertility medications she received caused ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which led to her ovaries swelling and fluid leakage into her body.

April had to stay in the hospital for two weeks while excess fluid accumulated around her lungs. Despite the difficulties, medical professionals were able to retrieve seven eggs and create four embryos. This added stress on top of a life-threatening misdiagnosed disease was overwhelming for April.

Raising Awareness and Inspiring Others

April recently took to TikTok to share her story, aiming to offer solace to others and inspire them to trust their instincts. “I’m raising awareness for everything I’m going through because I want people to know they know their body best. If my story helps one person to push for an appointment and listen to their body, then I’ll be glad,” she said.

Her followers rallied around her, showing immense support and uplifting messages. “So proud of you! Keep fighting angel x,” one user commented. Another wrote, “Strong woman.” And there were many more messages of encouragement and prayers for April’s recovery.

Today, April is cancer-free and using her experience to educate and empower others. Her journey serves as a reminder to listen to our bodies and advocate for our health. Don’t ignore those persistent symptoms or dismiss your concerns – they could be telling you something important.


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