The Royal Marsden

I've been looked after by The Royal Marsden for 24 years. Now I'm finally leading a normal life.

We spoke to Amy, a leukaemia patient who has been looked after by The Royal Marsden for 24 years.
Amy Sutton

Amy Sutton, 33, leukaemia patient

I WAS FIRST diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) at three years old. When I was eight, I was referred to The Royal Marsden after it was discovered I had ALL for the third time, as well as a tumour in my brain.

I needed radiotherapy and chemotherapy to get me into remission and to prepare me for a bone marrow transplant. The procedure was a success, but it took me ages to fully recover.

I was then diagnosed at 15 with chronic myeloid leukaemia and again aged 29. Both led to further treatment and two more bone marrow transplants.

Despite this, before my fifth diagnosis, I had 12 really positive years when I was cancer free. I met my fiancé, Carlos, got a degree in costume design and started my own business as a hatter.

At this stage, I had a lot of complications and severe side effects, including malabsorption and malnutrition, as a result of years of intensive treatment. I weighed just 33kg and was incredibly weak. I needed help getting up from chairs or out of cars.

I had intensive physiotherapy and, to build up my strength and increase my weight, I was introduced to Dr Darina Kohoutova and the Gastrointestinal and Nutrition Team service (GIANTs) in 2019. They’ve had a huge impact on my recovery. They helped me to get the nutritional supplements I needed, and recommended that I have a feeding tube inserted into my stomach and take medication that helps break down fats.

Within months, I had more energy and began to feel stronger. I reached a healthy weight and could eat solid foods – and this April, I had my feeding tube removed. I’ve even taken part in two challenges this year to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, including walking 15 miles around my local area for The Banham Marsden March.

I’ve now been in remission since October 2018. Although I’m still working with the GIANTs team to manage the side effects, the cancer has gone, I’m leading a normal life – and Carlos and I plan to get married in a lighthouse in Scotland next year.

Professor Darina Kohoutova
Lead of GIANT service

“It has been a real joy to get involved, together with our specialist dietitian Catherine Fleuret, in Amy’s treatment.

Amy was diagnosed with severe malnutrition and a feeding tube was inserted for almost two years. Improving her nutritional status was limited by severe bile acid malabsorption, so it was important to find the right balance of medication, nutrition via gastrostomy and oral diet. Amy’s weight increased by 13kg and her gastrointestinal symptoms improved dramatically, so her tube was removed in April. It has been a privilege to work with Amy and to see her flourish. We wish her and Carlos the very best for their future.”