It's a hard feeling to describe, being diagnosed with cancer. I remember feeling lost; it was like a dream. You see it happen to other people but you never think it will happen to you.
But when I was 16 I was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Before I was diagnosed, I had severe pain in my back. I had gone to my GP and been given tablets to try stop my muscles from spasms but eventually the pain got so bad I went to A&E. While in the waiting room, I had to sit on the floor because sitting on the chair was too painful for my back.
I had a blood test and was then moved to the paediatric ward. I sort of already knew what was going on. When the doctor came to give me my diagnosis, I asked him to speak to me alone. I wanted to protect my mum – I didn’t want to see her upset.
At first I just wanted to curl up and cry. But when I saw the look in my mums eyes I knew I had to be strong for my family.
I was treated at Leeds General Infirmary on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit. The staff could not have been more accommodating. I was in for 52 days straight and the care was amazing. Everyone on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit is like one big family. We are all there for one another, everyone is so supportive and caring, and the facilities and activities you can do are outstanding.
My Youth Support Coordinator, Nicky, is like my guardian angel.
She and I are so close. She has helped me a lot during the course of my treatment and helped me when I have been so down. She takes me out for coffee and on shopping trips. Nicky brought me closer to the other patients as well with all the activities she planned. We decorated mugs and we even went out to see a live musical.
I am in my third block of treatment now and having different types of chemotherapy drugs. One of the drugs I had caused a blood clot in my brain which then caused me to have 5 seizures and a stroke. I’m currently taking a lot of chemotherapy drugs and after that, I’ll have my last lumber puncture. I’m set to finish my treatment in 2 years’ time.
Right now I am still having treatment and have recently started going back to school part-time as I was really missing it. I love spending time with my family and want to take up more hobbies when I start to feel a bit better.
One of the first things that I was scared about after being diagnosed was losing my hair. But now I’m not even bothered by it. I have a wig but I do most things, like going to school, without it.
My cancer has taught me how to be a stronger person. I was so scared about losing my hair but now I live with it and am happy to be who I am. My diagnosis has also made my relationship with my family much stronger because cancer really makes you realise how precious life is.
You can vent your anger to your family and they stick by you even at your darkest times – for me, that's what makes a family strong.
I would tell someone who has just been diagnosed to keep their head up, things do get better and when they are having their dark days to remember how many people care. Life is so precious and cancer may take peoples luxuries away at times but it can never take the love you have for others.