My ‘healthy’ wife died a day after being diagnosed with cancer as we didn’t know the signs – don’t make the same mistake | The Sun

A "HEALTHY" mum died just hours after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer.

Liz Taylor had been suffering from fatigue and migraines, but had no idea these could be symptoms of acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APML).

Her family now wants to use her story to educate others on the potential red flags.

Liz's husband Jonathan, from Desford, Leicestershire, said: "We want to urge people not to dismiss any sign or symptom they may have or put it down to daily aches and pains we all often suffer, irrespective of age."

The mother-of-two first noticed something was wrong in late 2021.

She was feeling constantly tired, but put this down to her hectic lifestyle.


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Liz was working full-time as a teaching assistant at Stafford Leys Primary School in Leicester and was busy being a parent.

But over the subsequent months she began to notice other symptoms, including a severe pain in the sternum area of her chest, a pain in her leg, migraines, blurred vision and eventually heavy bleeding. 

She went to the optician and doctor about her headaches and was offered a blood test.

"This showed her blood count was very low and was at serious risk of infection, but no reason could be found other than possibly some kind of virus," Jonathan said.

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The migraines and blurred vision became more frequent, which eventually prompted a visit to A&E.

There, Liz was diagnosed with neutropenia – a low number of a particular type of white cells in her blood – but again, no cause was found. 

Her symptoms continued to worsen and the results of an MRI scan later revealed multiple infarcts (marks on the brain).

Liz was then told she was having continued mini-strokes and was immediately admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary.  

"Given blood clots are generally a major cause of strokes, the hospital’s initial diagnosis was that a heart problem had been causing the multiple blood clots and strokes – which later proved not to be the case," said Jonathan.

"During the following 10 days, Liz underwent numerous cardio checks and assessments, during which time she suffered a larger, more serious stroke.

"Having been initially cancelled due to her hospital admission 10 days earlier, eventually a bone marrow test was scheduled."

Once the results came back, Liz was diagnosed with APML.

She tragically passed away the following day on July 14, 2022, from a brain hemorrhage – a direct effect from the previous strokes.  

Liz's daughters are still coming to terms with her loss, struggling to truly accept why their beautiful mum was taken so young.

Only 160 people in the UK are diagnosed with APML each year.

Although symptoms are often similar to other leukaemias, its appearance isn’t easily detected in blood samples.

APML is a very aggressive, rapidly-developing cancer which can normally only be conclusively diagnosed with a bone marrow biopsy.  

Following his wife's death, Jonathan frantically searched online for information on her condition.

He came across Leukaemia Care and Leukaemia UK’s #SpotLeukaemia campaign and now wants to spread the word.

"It prompted me to wish that if only I and the medical teams caring for Liz had the knowledge and foresight to identify the signs earlier, Liz could have been diagnosed sooner," he said.

"She passed away on the day after her APML diagnosis aged 51, without having had any opportunity for treatment. 

"The family, in particular her two daughters Kate, 26, and Charlotte, 23, are still coming to terms with her loss, struggling to truly accept what has happened and how or why their beautiful mum was taken so young.

"The entire family including her mum, dad, and brother are still numb and in shock that someone so young, fit and healthy can be taken in this way."


Jonathan, who has helped raise almost £20,000 for charity, added: "Before Liz’s eventual diagnosis, the tell-tale signs were dismissed as fatigue, menopausal, migraines and eye deterioration.

"Even later, having suffered from mini strokes, the prognosis was to investigate it from a cardiology not from a haematology viewpoint.

"Sadly, for Liz, the now-obvious multiple symptoms she had from APML were never all joined up, and heartbreakingly the eventual bone marrow test came too late.  

"Guilt isn’t the right word, but there is widespread remorse and regret that with all of Liz’s symptoms the family and medical teams hadn’t been knowledgeable enough to understand and link together the true symptoms of APML.

"Our focus now is on leaving a positive legacy in Liz’s name, through charity events and raising awareness on the early signs of leukaemia, in particular APML."

According to Leukaemia UK, the most common indicators of APML include:

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  • Fatigue – caused by low numbers of red blood cells (anaemia) 
  • Repeated infections – caused by low numbers of white blood cells 
  • Blood clots which could lead to pains around the body, headaches or problems with vision 
  • Bruising and bleeding easily – caused by low numbers of platelets   
  • Unexplained weight loss 

If you have any concerns about possible APML symptoms, please speak to your GP. 

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