Ellie Downes, 27, a police officer from York, UK, first started experiencing pain in her knee in October 2020.
Seeking help from medical professionals, she claims to have been told it was a soft tissue injury that just needed time to heal.
After “pushing” doctors to investigate further, she claims they said it was ligament damage and she was referred to a physiotherapist – who then recommended she ask for an MRI.
The scan showed devastating results – revealing a 10cm tumour growing in her tibia, with a subsequent biopsy in July 2021 confirming it was cancerous.
“When I first received my diagnosis, I felt numb,” Ellie told http://NeedToKnow.co.uk .
“It took months for reality to sink in.
“I vividly remember being in hospital over Christmas and it just hit me.
“Up until that point, I felt like I was just on a hamster wheel, not having the chance to fully comprehend what was happening.
“Not for one minute did I suspect that my symptoms could be cancer.
“I worried that I was just being dramatic and overcautious.
“I didn’t have any of the typical cancer symptoms like weight loss, fatigue, or bruising.
“If I hadn’t seen the physiotherapist, I would have just left it and not pushed the doctors any further.
“It’s quite scary when I think of it as if the tumour would have continued growing rapidly and could have snapped my bone from the inside.
“This could have resulted in the cancer spreading and a terminal prognosis.”
Doctors removed Ellie’s tibia bone and she underwent chemotherapy treatment immediately, meaning she didn’t have time to freeze her eggs.
Devastatingly, a scan in December 2022 confirmed that just two months after finishing her treatment, the cancer had returned – this time in her lungs and she had two additional osteosarcoma tumours.
Ellie said: “My second diagnosis hit me much harder.
“I was worried about telling my family; they had just seen me so poorly I didn’t want them to have to go through that again.
“We knew what was to come so it somehow felt scarier.
“This time, I was told that if any of my eggs had survived my first six rounds of chemotherapy, they would not be able to survive further treatment and I would be infertile.
“I explained that my main priority was seeing the fertility clinic and saving any eggs I had left.
“Luckily, I was able to do this and I had 14 eggs frozen.”
Ellie completed her treatment in April this year, allowing her to “finally rebuild” her life, including planning her budding wedding to her partner, Max, 27.
Despite her initial struggle for diagnosis, Ellie says the NHS’s treatment of her since has been “great”.
She said: “I understand that it would cost so much money to scan every young patient who presents with mild pain in their knee when nine times out of 10 it might be nothing to worry about.
“However, I believe that there should be a screening process and checklist, the same as there is with breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer, so that cases like mine are not missed in the future.”
Ellie is still having scans every three months to monitor her progress but is currently cancer-free, with one small nodule on her lung being monitored.
She added: “I am recovering well and looking forward to going back to work and normality.
“I am currently working on setting up a charity to help with support for 25 to 35-year-olds going through or living with cancer.
“I am looking forward to planning my wedding and trying for a baby: all of the things I was ready to do before cancer.”
Now looking ahead to the future, Ellie and Max hope to get married in spring 2025 in Cyprus.