"I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia on 28 December 2016, aged 19 years old.
When I was told the heartbreaking news, I was with my mum, dad, sister and boyfriend. I instantly thought the worst; most people I knew who with cancer had passed away.
I had so many questions going through my head, and kept thinking about how everyone was going to react – I couldn't bear to see my loved ones so upset. Then I thought to myself, I’ve got this horrible disease, I’m going to fight it and show everyone how strong I am.
I had been experiencing symptoms for about 6 weeks. I repeatedly went to the doctors because I knew something wasn't right. The doctor diagnosed me with flu; I work with children so he thought it was something I’d picked up at work. My symptoms worsened to the stage where I couldn’t do anything but lie on the sofa. I had come out in a rash under my arms, and a bruise on my chest, so I rang the out of hours’ doctors.
They wanted to send an ambulance for me but I was sure I didn't need one, so they booked an appointment for me. I went with a long list of my symptoms so that I could tell them everything, but they told me I had a viral rash. Eventually I was referred for a blood test, and four hours later I was told to make my way to Walsgrave Hospital with an overnight bag. Then I was diagnosed.
I was moved to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, and my treatment started almost immediately.
The first 5 weeks were intense chemotherapy, intravenously, oral, lumbar puncture and injections. After this I had various treatments over the course of 21 weeks, some as an out-patient and some that saw me staying in hospital for several days at a time. Now I'm in maintenance and need go to the hospital once a month for 2 years, which is to stop the leukaemia cells from coming back.
The Teenage Cancer Trust unit was amazing. I don't think I would've been able to cope with my diagnosis and treatment if I wasn’t on such an incredible ward. There was so much to do!
A large kitchen with a jukebox, a TV, a sofa inside, an Eden room with a Wii and Xbox and PlayStation, a cupboard full of DVDs which you could even watch in your room, as we all had a TV. There were pizza nights, milkshake days, and loads of creative activities – you could even have a massage on a Wednesday if you put your name down!
The open visiting hours were a huge help to me, as I really didn't want to be alone. My little brother could visit me, whereas in the other hospital you had to be 14 or over.
Being around other teenagers going through similar things to me was incredibly helpful. It has really built my confidence, and I have made some friends for life.
The Youth Support Coordinator came to my bedside every day, and always asked if there was anything I needed or if I wanted to join in with any activities. He would speak to me about how I was feeling and would be really understanding if I didn’t feel like joining in.
Me and my boyfriend wanted to give something back, so we did a charity tombola and we managed to raise £1,585! We know this money is going to go towards the most amazing resources and help other young people get through the horrible news of having cancer.
My stay in hospital was the best possible stay I could've had. I even look forward to going in as an outpatient so that I can see my friends and the nurses there (who are also friends now!). I'm still having treatment once a month, but will soon be able to return to work and start enjoying normal life again.
To anyone facing cancer, I would say remember that everybody’s journey is different! Take each day as it comes, and try to stay positive."