Student who thought shoulder pain was due to sleeping awkwardly but was actually cancer dies aged 19
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A student who lost a leg to a ‘sports injury’ that turned out to be cancer has died aged 19. Lulu Blundell, from Rotherham, believed a new pain in her shoulder was due to sleeping awkwardly, but was given a devastating cancer diagnosis days later.
The 19-year-old was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that affects bones or the tissue around bones in 2019, undergoing chemotherapy every other week for eight months and in October 2019 she had to have one of her legs amputated.
In September 2021, Blundell was out of treatment and was studying English at Newcastle University. In April 2022, she started having pain in her shoulder, but was told there was nothing to worry about.
The pain continued for around three to four weeks, and she dismissed it as a sports injury or that she had slept awkwardly. However, a consultant arranged a CT scan for her and she was told her cancer had returned.
The diagnosis was terminal, and she had new and ‘significant’ tumours in her shoulder, ribs, and chest. Initially, Blundell was told she had between five and 10 years to live, but died just nine months later.
In the wake of the diagnosis, she was determined to make memories, visiting Magaluf with friends, Amsterdam with her boyfriend Paddy, and enjoyed family trips to London, Northumberland and Manchester.
Danielle, Lulu’s Teenage Cancer Trust Nurse, and NHS staff working at the charity’s units in Newcastle and Sheffield, went above and beyond to make sure Lulu could do the things she wanted in the time she had left – like go to Glastonbury. Things that might seem simple but take a lot of planning when somebody is very unwell.
She went to the festival with her friends on a tonne of pain relief – it was all arranged so that she could store and take it in the first aid tent. Had she become really unwell she wouldn’t have had to go to A&E, a named contact at the local hospital had been briefed about her whole history and was on hand if needed.
In September, she crossed the finish line at Run with Lulu, a special charity 5k she organised with her family and rugby club, in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. She ran the event with a broken shoulder blade due to the tumour.
Weeks after the event a new scan revealed that her cancer had spread more quickly than expected and that she had just months to live, not years, to live. She still went out and tried to live life, but by December, she was too unwell.
“Nothing could have prepared us for those last three weeks and to see Lulu so ill and uncommunicative, and there was nothing we could do, was unbelievably hard,” said Teenage Cancer Trust nurse Danielle. “We all went through a huge amount of stress – one of us would be with her 24/7 and some nights she was in a lot of pain.”
Nurse Danielle added: “We will never stop grieving for Lulu, but knowing that she was able to express what she wanted and being able to fulfil those wishes brings us some comfort.
“It’s really important to me that something positive comes out of all this, which is why sharing my story means a lot and why we’re finishing off the fundraising Lulu started for Teenage Cancer Trust. In total she raised over £95k to help other young people with cancer, and we’re hoping to get that total up to £100k. It is too impossible to think no good can come from this tragedy and this is my driver to carry on, regardless of how long that takes.”