In March of 2021, twenty-eight-year-old Alix Burnard of Newbury, Berkshire UK had several Covid-19 tests due to a suspected infection. All three tests were negative, so she felt it was safe to ignore her symptoms.
Alix had always been in good health, but she sought medical advice when her neck began to swell accompanied by severe pain. She thought she had somehow injured her neck while she was sleeping. She began searching for a local chiropractor.
However, the swelling continued to increase, and Alix was put on antibiotics which had no effect. By then she was continually calling her doctors but due to the Covid lockdown, the only advice she was given was to take cough syrup.
It was not until May that she was finally admitted to the hospital. By that time, she lost a considerable amount of weight and was barely able to breathe. After several scans, her doctors told Alix she had cancer. Initially, they diagnosed lymphoma. Later the diagnosis was corrected to ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer.
Alix told the Telegraph that she felt alone as she did not know anyone in her circle of friends who had cancer, especially lung cancer, at her age. She described how her old life stopped, especially her health, hobbies, and her career. She felt it was unfair as she had her whole life ahead of her. Alix said she really tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle and that once cancer took hold, she lost so much.
Alix was in disbelief because she had never smoked. She said that lung cancer definitely has a stigma, as almost everyone who heard about her cancer assumed that she had smoked.
It is still true that tobacco use remains the most significant cause of lung cancer, but the WHO estimates that currently, 25% of cases worldwide occur in non-smokers.
Alix died on January 14, 2023, at the age of 29.
She was determined to send an urgent message to non-smokers. She urged everyone to listen to their bodies and if a person has a persistent cough, they should not ignore it and call their GP.
Alix Burnard’s friends and family hope that she will be remembered as truly selfless, brave, and kind to others.
Symptoms of ALK+ lung cancer Include:
- A persistent cough that is painful
- Significant, unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty speaking due to shortness of breath
- Voice changes
- Pain in the mid or upper back, torso, or shoulders
- Change in the color of saliva or mucus