I was diagnosed in November 2013 at the age of 21 with a germ cell tumour and was treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Royal Marsden in Sutton, Surrey.
I first noticed something was wrong when I started feeling extremely tired. I hadn't long started an apprenticeship to become an electrician so at first I thought I was overdoing it at work. I also noticed that I couldn't shift a cough I had. Eventually I popped along to my GP who thought I had a chest infection.
The very next day I went to work but whilst there I came down unexpectedly with a stomach upset and got sent home. Whilst at home I began to feel worse and felt my chest tightening and began to think I was having a heart attack. I didn't want to make a fuss and call an ambulance so I called my GP who popped round to my house and diagnosed me with a punctured lung. The GP suggested I head to my local hospital.
Whilst at hospital I had a variety of tests and an X-ray showed a shadow on my lung, an irregular heartbeat and a blood test revealed results that I had a hormone in my blood which would normally suggest pregnancy! The doctors then became worried that I might have cancer but couldn't be 100% sure and which type of cancer I had.
I had a biopsy and the results took a long 7 days to reveal that I did have cancer and it was a germ cell tumour. My family and I were shocked, it was the first time in my life I've been scared.
I got transferred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Royal Marsden where they wanted to start treatment straightaway. First they needed to drain the fluid in my lungs and heart. Unfortunately every time they tried to insert the cannula I passed out and my nervous system was beginning to shut down. I was transferred to another part of the hospital where eventually 750ml of fluid was removed from my lungs and another 750ml of fluid from my heart.
I started my first cycle of chemotherapy on 1 December 2013 on the ward. I feel like I wouldn't have got through my treatment so positively if it hadn't been for the ward and the people I met there. I immediately made friends with 2 other lads who were on the ward and we kept each other's spirits up with our banter. I particularly liked hanging out in the chill out room, playing on the games consoles and watching films. I also got on well with the nurses.
Life after cancer:
I finished my last chemo in March 2014 and then had an operation in May to remove the tumour. On 16 July I got the news I was clear of cancer and I celebrated this by restarting my apprenticeship on Monday 19 July.
Life after cancer is weird. That first week everything is an absolute buzz. High on life, everyone is getting in touch congratulating you, telling you how proud you are and then it kind of just stops. The buzz disappears, the attention and celebration stops. It becomes strange. You trick yourself into thinking that no one cares anymore and that people were only about because they pitied you. That is certainly not the case, and you soon shake yourself out of it and do what you've wanted to do for so long and get on with life!
I still worry about aches and pains, and that the thoughts of 'what if it comes back' will always haunt me. I still suffer from 'chemo brain' and fatigue, but despite this I've chosen to run the London Marathon for Teenage Cancer Trust. But it's all natural, your body has just been through hell to get here. The other little worries are whether you're still fertile or not, especially as I didn't have the chance to bank. The biggest and most significant thing for me, then, and still now, is how much I appreciate the little things in life. The 'good mornings', the random phone calls, silly laughs. All sorts, just little things mean the world now! Sitting in traffic isn't an issue anymore, things like that no longer rile me. Life is good!
I'm continuing my apprenticeship, working in a youth club twice a week, I'm training for the marathon and organising my own dinner in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. I'm busy, very busy but I'm not complaining! I would say I'm back just being a normal 23 year old. With the odd incredible experience through the trust like Find Your Sense of Tumour and the Royal Albert Hall gigs!
The reason for my decision to run the marathon for Teenage Cancer Trust is a purely selfish one in my opinion. Teenage Cancer Trust reach 50% of Young Adults diagnosed, I could of easily been that other 50%. Whilst I received that incredible care that I believe genuinely saved my life, someone else didn't. I'm lucky, I know that. I want to help change it from 50 to 100%. I couldn't imagine of going though everything without the trust. I don't want anyone else to have to either. Yes occasionally I feel guilty but it wasn't my fault I got lucky but I can do all I can to try and change it!