A glamorous young fashion blogger diagnosed with blood cancer on the holiday of a lifetime has revealed the early warning signs everyone should know.
After graduating as a teacher in 2018, Sumeyya Hadi, 26, jetted off on a round-the-world trip, and was travelling across Turkey when she developed a persistent itch all over her body.
Despite multiple GPs dismissing it as an allergic reaction, the influencer with 55,000 Instagram followers became increasingly unwell on a short visit home to Maribyrnong in north-west Melbourne, in June 2019.
Two days before her flight back to Europe, Ms Hadi, who is also a teacher, took herself to hospital and told a doctor she had been suffering from night sweats, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and difficulty swallowing due to a lump in her neck.
Melbourne teacher Sumeyya Hadi (pictured) was on a round-the-world trip when she developed a persistent itch all over her body
Tests revealed what Ms Hadi believes her doctor ‘already knew’, and 10 days later she was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer where cancerous cells have spread into two or more lymph nodes.
‘My world completely crashed. I thought to myself “why me? I don’t want to die”,’ Ms Hadi told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I had such a busy lifestyle with travelling, working and social media that initially I didn’t have time to care about the symptoms.’
Ms Hadi (pictured) took herself to hospital and told a doctor she had been suffering from night sweats, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and difficulty swallowing due to a lump in her neck
Her cancer was so aggressive that she immediately began a gruelling six-month course of BEACOPP chemotherapy, the standard treatment for fast-spreading cancer.
She found it difficult to accept her new reality, as the adventures and fashion shows she had grown accustomed to were suddenly replaced with a stream of scans, injections and intravenous therapies.
‘I didn’t like who I became after I had that big “cancer” label slapped on my forehead,’ she said.
‘It took me a long time to understand that not everything in life is meant to be beautiful, and not every plan works the way we want them to work.’
Scans revealed the fashion blogger (pictured during treatment) was suffering from stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer where cancerous cells have spread to two or more lymph nodes
Ms Hadi’s cancer was deemed so aggressive that she immediately began a gruelling six-month course of BEACOPP chemotherapy
Ms Hadi is one of an estimated 7,207 Australians diagnosed with some form of lymphoma, and one of roughly 600 diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, each year.
It is a rare disease that accounts for just 0.5 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia, and one most likely to occur in people aged between 15 and 25 or those over the age of 65.
Hodgkin’s is notoriously difficult to diagnose because symptoms are vague and easily confused with those of less sinister illnesses such as pneumonia and glandular fever.
Unlike cervical, breast and colon cancer, there are no screening programs for Hodgkin’s and it cannot be diagnosed with a generic blood test, leading health organisations to label it a ‘silent killer’.
Common warning signs of Hodgkin’s include night sweats, itchiness and fatigue, as well as inflamed rashes, unexplained weight loss and painless lumps in the armpits, groin or neck – many of which Ms Hadi experienced.
Sumeyya Hadi is one of an estimated 7,207 Australians diagnosed with some form of lymphoma each year
Hodgkin lymphoma explained
Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare form of cancer that starts in a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
The disease begins in a lymph node, usually in the neck, then spreads through the lymphatic system from one group of lymph nodes to another.
Hodgkin lymphoma represents just 0.5 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. About 11 percent of all lymphomas are types of Hodgkin lymphoma, while the remainder are non-Hodgkin.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may arise in lymph nodes anywhere in the body, whereas Hodgkin lymphoma typically begins in the upper body, such as the neck, chest or armpits.
Hodgkin lymphoma is often diagnosed at an early stage and is therefore considered one of the most treatable cancers.
Approximately 600 people in Australia are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma every year, most commonly younger people aged 15 – 29 and older people over the age of 65. It is more common in men than women.
The causes of Hodgkin lymphoma remain largely unclear, but risk factors include family history – with those who have a parent or sibling who has had Hodgkin’s slightly likelier to develop the disease – certain viruses, including glandular fever and HIV, and a generally weakened immune system which can occur because of autoimmune conditions or lengthy periods taking immunosuppressant drugs.
Source: Lymphoma Australia
In its initial stages, most forms of Hodgkin’s are highly treatable and associated with long-term survival, which means early intervention can be the difference between life and death.
It is even curable at stage four when tumours have spread to organs outside the lymphatic system.
Treatment proved successful for Ms Hadi, who has been declared cancer-free, but her frightening brush with the disease that will claim the lives of an estimated 740 Australian women in 2021 alone has taught her many lessons.
‘I have a new understanding of people who go through cancer,’ she said.
Ms Hadi’s frightening brush with the disease that will claim the lives of an estimated 740 Australian women in 2021 alone has taught her many lessons
‘It’s not just simple chemo treatment, it’s constant tests and appointments, it’s a lot of pain, anger, and tears.’
Ms Hadi urged young Australians to watch for changes in their bodies, no matter how inconsequential they may seem.
Her best advice for anyone confronted with a terrifying illness is simple.
‘Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, or even one thing at a time when you can’t handle it anymore,’ she said.
For more information on Hodgkin lymphoma and other types of blood cancer, please visit Lymphoma Australia or the Australian Cancer Council.