Schoolgirl, 17, diagnosed with rare form of cancer after she recognised symptoms while watching film starring Cameron Diaz
Alex Copper realised she had the same symptoms as a character from My Sister”s Keeper who is dying from canceShe originally put symptoms of headache and fatigue down to being a “lazy teenager”She didn”t tell anyone because she was worried about “making a fuss”After seeing the film she was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and began a gruelling course of chemotherapy
Early diagnosis: Alex Cooper, 17, is now in remission after she spotted the symptoms of leukemia watching a film
A schoolgirl”s life was saved after she realised she was suffering from an extremely rare form of cancer from watching the Cameron Diaz film My Sister”s Keeper.
Alex Cooper, 17, has just been told she is in remission after two years of chemotherapy to treat potentially deadly chronic myeloid leukaemia.
But it could have been very different if it weren”t for the schoolgirl spotting she had the same symptoms as a character from My Sister”s Keeper who is dying from cancer.
Alex had been suffering fatigue, numerous headaches, her stomach had swollen and she noticed bruises appearing all over her body.
She had originally put her symptoms down to being a “lazy teenager” and didn”t tell anyone because she was worried about “making a fuss”.
But thanks to the information in the film the teenager, who is aiming to study at Cambridge, finally realised she needed to see a specialist.
Alex, of Bredgar, Kent, went to see her GP in October 2010 and was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) three days later and immediately began a gruelling course of chemotherapy.
Medics have now told Alex she is in remission after two years of taking powerful chemotherapy drug Distaniv – and her condition is now manageable.
But amazingly, Alex yesterday admitted she may never have caught the cancer in time if she hadn”t sat down to watch the movie.
Alex said: “It was one of those surreal moments in life. I was watching the film and all of a sudden I realised I had the same symptoms.
“It was terrifying at first but I started to rationalize it and thought – I can”t really be suffering from cancer.
“But I eventually went to my doctor and he sent for blood test straight away.
Cameron Diaz plays the protective mother of ill Kate and her sister Anna who is a genetic match for her older sibling
“When I was first told about the cancer I was in shock I thought it was the end. I just thought I am going to lose all my hair and just keep getting more and more ill.
“I suppose if it wasn”t for the film I may not have got my diagnosis in time.
“When you watch something on screen it makes everything much more real. I guess I am just really lucky to have watched it.
“However, I can”t bring myself to see it again it is too upsetting – I have hidden it under my bed.”
Three weeks after watching the film Alex plucked up the courage to see her GP who instantly spotted the warning signs and sent her for blood tests.
Medics found she had a white blood cell count of 490,000 while the average is just 4,000 and immediately diagnosed her with Leukaemia.
But she was told her chances of survival were much higher, thanks to spotting it early.
Left untreated her health would have rapidly deteriorated and she could have died in less than a year.
Only 600 people a year are diagnosed with CML and it is extremely rare in teenagers and children – particularly in girls.
It causes an unusual amount of a white blood cell call granulocyte to form in the blood and over time the cells collect in the spleen causing it to enlarge.
They then form in the bone marrow reducing the number of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets that are made.
Alex, who lives with her father Ben, 41, a carpenter, step mother Em, 39, a freelance photographer and younger brother Toby, six, is currently in her first year of A-levels studying English, Maths, Art and Psychology.
Alex added: “I just try to get on with my life – there is no point on dwelling on the cancer or wallowing in pity.
“I can now go out with my friends and do the things a normal teenager does.
“I just hope to live a normal life and look forward to the future.”