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I was living at home with my Mum, Dad and 2 brothers, and working at an Aldi supermarket. I enjoyed volunteering at a local community hall doing sound and lighting for various productions, and as a family we have a close circle of friends that we’ve made at the hall. We enjoyed camping trips and annual New Year getaways, and then last New Year, during a 7 mile walk from Robins Hoods Bay to Whitby, I noticed an ongoing pain in my foot becoming much worse.
I had been to see my GP about it and was told it was nothing. When the pain wouldn’t go away, I went back 4 more times, until they finally said I had a ‘flat foot’ - AKA plantar fasciitis. But when I noticed a lump on my leg I immediately did my own research. I went into a walk-in clinic and the doctor there referred me to have an ultrasound.
The next day when I had the ultrasound for the bump on my leg, it was my 23rd birthday. The day after that, I was told that it was suspected I had a malignant tumour – a Sarcoma.
I researched Sarcoma and found out what it was. I had never even heard of it before and I was absolutely shocked from what I read.
A few days later I met with the surgeon who showed me the pictures from the scans. It was then that I was officially told I had Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour (Sarcoma). At this point it wasn’t a surprise - I was expecting it.
But I was shocked to discover the size and aggressive nature of the tumour (grade 3). When I met with the surgeon a couple weeks later, he said “I have pencilled your surgery in for Friday, is it ok with you?” That’s the moment I started feeling anxious about what was to come.
Nurse Jess has always been there for me throughout my diagnosis and treatment, she attended every doctor’s visit and Multidisciplinary team meetings. She was always on the other end of a phone if I had any questions or concerns.
On the day of my surgery, I had to be at the hospital for 7 AM and I was taken down for the surgery at around 9 AM. I underwent a seven-and-a-half-hour operation to remove the tumour in my leg. It had grown into my sciatic nerve so the doctors had to remove the whole nerve and take nerve grafts from my lower leg to replace it. The surgical team was amazing and took excellent care of me.
When I came around I was a little disorientated and eventually got taken up to the ward I was staying in.
I spent the next week in hospital, with the help of the physio I started to learn to walk again after just three days. I came home on crutches which the surgeon said I would need for 6 months. However, after just 4 weeks I was managing to get around without them.
I spent a week in hospital at Leeds General Infirmary, then went back once a week for a dressing change. When I started my 6 weeks of radiotherapy, I went to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at St James Hospital in Leeds.
The Teenage Cancer Trust unit at St James Hospital in Leeds was a fantastic place to undergo my treatment. The room was specially designed for young people and all the staff were so friendly and caring. It was decorated very colourfully, had comfy sofas, a television, Xbox and BISCUITS!
I follow Teenage Cancer Trust on Facebook and although I haven’t had chance yet, I would like to attend an event like Find Your Sense of Tumour or Way Forward, and to talk to other young people who will fully understand what I’m going through.
Due to the removal of the nerves in my lower leg, I lost the feeling and movement in my right foot. I had to learn to walk again using leg supports. The radiotherapy also made my leg rather red, it looks and feels like sunburn.
I used to like cycling prior to surgery, but I don’t know if I will be able to return to this. I also enjoyed driving but had to give up my car. I have, however, ordered a mobility car with a left foot accelerator so am looking forward to gaining my independence back!
I have just finished my treatment and am about to go on a family holiday to Dorset. Returning to work at Aldi after 6 months off is my next big goal, and I’m really looking forward to that.
I can honestly say I feel very lucky to have had such fantastic care from everyone involved in my cancer journey.
I feel very lucky to have a close family and circle of friends who have supported me. Everyone’s cancer journey is unique to them and there is no right or wrong way to deal with things, but for me I was able to talk honestly with my Mum and Dad and close friends. I am determined to not let this disease stop me enjoying my life! I am going to mark my battle with a tattoo, to show cancer who’s boss!