A Fife mum with leukaemia who received groundbreaking Covid treatment is encouraging others to get it if they’re eligible.
Lynn Torrance, 59, from Buckhaven contracted Covid earlier this month.
She was understandably worried about how the virus would affect her, as she is living with cancer.
But Lynn found out she was eligible for new antibody treatment available to some locals who have contracted Covid.
Here, Lynn tells how it gave her weakened immune system the fighting chance needed to beat Covid – and what it was like to be one of the first to receive the new treatment.
Clinicians assess whether patients get the treatment by infusion into a vein or by taking tablets in hospital.
Lynn was diagnosed and treated within the same week at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy.
She received the new antiviral infusion and said it has given her, and others who are termed as clinically vulnerable, a reason to be optimistic.
Cancer then Covid
Lynn has had a run of bad health over recent years.
She was diagnosed with leukaemia last January after suffering a stroke five years ago.
It left her with weakness on her right side and meant she had to take retirement from her role with Fife Council on medical grounds.
She says: “When I was diagnosed with cancer I was devastated as I’m still trying to come to terms with having had the stroke.
“But I thought, I’m still here I just need to get on with it.”
Bad symptoms from Covid
After her own diagnosis, Lynn’s mum had a stroke in 2021 in what she describes as “a horrible year.”
She had good reason to think the bad luck was continuing when she woke up with a severe headache on Wednesday January 3.
Lynn adds: “I didn’t feel like myself, I just wasn’t feeling well. So I did a lateral flow test which came back positive.“
Results of a PCR test the next day confirmed Lynn had Covid.
“I had developed bad symptoms by then,” she explains. “I still had headaches, no energy, a cough and was struggling with my breathing.
“I thought to myself I hope I don’t get it really badly.
“I thought to myself I hope I don’t get it really badly. But because I’ve got cancer, I know my immune system is lower than everyone else’s.”
Treatment offers hope
But Lynn got a letter the next day which brought good news and proved to make a huge difference in her fight against Covid.
People more at risk from the virus have been sent letters to say they could be eligible for the new treatments, with Fife one of the first to offer them in a specially opened ward at the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy.
And NHS Tayside confirms 100 patients in the area have now received the drugs too.
Lynn adds: “I phoned the number in the letter to be assessed and was asked questions about my symptoms.
“When it was established I qualified, they were back in touch within half an hour and was given an appointment the next day.
“It made me feel instantly relieved.”
Home the same day after Covid treatment
Lynn says: “I was taken to room with comfy chairs and it was all explained to me really well.
“It takes half an hour to get into your system through an infusion. Your blood pressure is taken every 15 minutes.
“After the treatment, you’re monitored for an hour. Once that was done, I was free to go home.
“I was told it takes about 24 to 36 hours to get into your system properly and by the Saturday afternoon, I was feeling much better.
“I’d say to anyone who is eligible to go for it, it’s brilliant there’s a drug available now for people whose immune systems are affected.
“The way I see it, that’s relieving a burden on the NHS, they’re worth their weight in gold and don’t get enough credit.”
And that was a thought echoed by the first patient to receive the treatment in Tayside, Penny Hepburn.
Lynn is out of isolation and is looking forward to the next positive milestone for her and her family this year – the birth of her first grandchild in June.
“I’m just over the moon and so excited about it. It’s such a bit of good news after everything that’s gone on.
“We are smiling now after the doom and gloom.”