Age: 13

Cancer type: bone cancer

Grace before diagnosisI started experiencing a pain just above my knee when I was 13. It mostly happened when I was lying down in bed and I had it for a couple of months before my mum called the doctors.

They diagnosed me over the phone as having growing pains, they didn't even ask to see me.

The pain continued - we went into the doctors and they sent me for an MRI scan. The results came back two days later and they said that I had osteosarcoma. I didn't know what that meant and my dad had to explain that it was a type of bone cancer. It was scary to hear that - it just wasn't what I expected

I was referred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Great North Children's Hospital. I was a bit overwhelmed when I first went it, but it was very different to what I expected. I thought hospital was just a place where you go when you are really sick, and you lay in bed and you don't really do anything.

Grace on the Ellen MacArthur sailing tripI learnt that hospitals can be different when there's other young people there and they are happy or trying to be happy.

I had 10 weeks of intense chemotherapy to shrink the tumour, then surgery to take it out, then more chemotherapy - around 30 weeks in total. The nurses were all lovely and made it a bit easier; they knew how to talk to people my age and that really helped

Emma, the Youth Support Coordinator, organised lots of activities like arts and crafts and movie nights to keep us busy and our minds off what was happening. This allowed me to make friends with the other young people. It helped having friends going through similar experiences as they knew what was happening to me and I didn't have to explain things.

Grace during treatment

Emma also told me about Find Your Sense of Tumour, a weekend away with other young people who have been through cancer where you listen to talks and do activities. It sounded very interesting and I wanted to go, but I felt a bit out of my comfort zone. I didn't know any of the other young people who were going, and it would be a weekend away in a new place without my parents, so I was a bit worried. 

The other young people from the hospital and I got a bus together with Emma to FYSOT and this allowed us to talk and get to know each other a bit before we got there, which helped ease my feelings. 

At FYSOT, I heard a talk from a man who had an amputation and he spoke about getting his life back together afterwards. I also heard from a woman who had been through cancer as a child who talked about her experiences and all of the people she met along the way. Both the talks inspired me. 

Grace at FYSOTIt was lovely meeting young people from across the UK who had been through similar experiences as I could relate to them. I had been friends with some of them on social media before the event and it was lovely meeting them in person, while I also got to know a lot of new people by the end of it.

On the way home, I felt so good about FYSOT. It's great having that support from other young people if you need it.