I had some blood tests at the doctors and was phoned that evening to go to the hospital to review them. Me and my mum were greeted at the hospital by the staff nurse who, out of nowhere, said, "You've recently been diagnosed with leukaemia, haven't you?" I was shaken up, but thought she must have been looking at someone else's notes.
I've broken my ankle not long before and went to the doctors when it staretd hurting again and I'd gotten little pinprick bruises. I ride BMX, so the doctor thought I could have slammed my foot down too hard and broken it again. I never got sick and I'd never had to have a blood test before, but he suggested I do one.
I had a stressful wait in the side room at the hospital after the incident with the staff nurse and before someone came to speak to me. I was diagnosed then with leukaemia. It turned out my blood results were way too high and by suggesting the blood the GP helped catch it. He saved my ass.
On top of the shock diagnosis, I was told it would be best for me to move 150 miles away to Bristol, as that way I could be part of a clinical trial and get the best treatment. I went home and told my close friends, and the next day I moved up to Bristol. That was a Saturday and I started chemo on the Monday, so it all happened really fast.
It was a pain to move away but I couldn't put a price on getting the best possible treatment.
I had three and a half years of treatment and the trial meant that the treatment stemmed off in different directions depending on how my blood was behaving and responding. If it was doing different things, they would use different drugs. It was more personalised than having a standard treatment. I had nine or ten different ways of getting the medication. Included in the treatment was nine months of intense spine injections and leg injections, and I had a picc line in from the day I started intensive chemo until I had moved onto the later maintenance treatment nine months later.
I wasn't on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit to start with, I was on the adult ward with much older people. I remember being woken really early for breakfast and also getting a noise complaint on my very first day because the metal music I was listening to was 'too aggressive'! It was hard for my friends to visit because of the strict visiting hours and being so far away from home. it was a lot to ask for them to come all that way, but they were amazing and all made an effort to support me and let me know they were thinking about me by holding BMX jams to raise money for charity.
I can't thank them enough for their support, I wouldn't be here without it.
The times I was able to spend actually on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit brought a lot more of a relaxed environment. There was a pool table and games consoles to use if my friends were about, or I could just relax by myself and not be staring at the same four walls in a hospital room. It made the whole experience easier as it didn't feel as much like a hospital environment.
Teenage Cancer Trust's lead nurse, Jamie, and the Clinical Nurse Specialist, Jax, were both amazing - they know that you want freedom and support and balanced that really well. The Youth Support Coordinator, Hannah, was great too and organised lots of different events, and I still go in for some of them now.
I still have a strong relationship with them all and their support has continued past me fully finishing treatment and helped a lot to pick up the pieces and get myself back to a normal life.
The team knew that treatment was proper getting to me so Jamie, Jax and the Clic Sargent social worker all teamed up to find a break in my treatment and arranged for me to go to the Vans Warped Tour. I got to see two of my favourite bands, Enter Shikari and Parkway Drive, from stage side, and got to meet and chat with both of the bands. It gave me the best boost ever and I felt happier to return to my treatment after and power through the last stages of intensive treatment.
The Teenage Cancer Trust team were really good and I would tell anyone treating young adults with cancer that we aren't kids and we aren't oblivious to what is going on, so don't be patronising and don't be a dick.
We are still in that buffer period between being a child and an adult but we understand what is going to happen.
Yeah, we may need that bit more of an emotional support sometimes from the people around us, but we understand the consequences of the treatment and the severity of what might be. Myself and every teenage cancer patients out there are the ones going through it, so we just need a bit of slack sometimes to be ourselves.
BMX was the single most important thing for me when I was diagnosed - it was like my outlet and escape from everyday stress. I'd just go out and ride my bike with my friends and forget about any worries I had. It's taken me to see so many different places like Austin, Texas, Málaga, and Scotland - the list goes on. I wouldn't be the person I am without it.
The BMX scene in the South West isn't massive, but I think because of the small towns everyone knows everyone from different places and we all come together to ride and have a good time. This happened a lot when I was first diagnosed and it was amazing to see, but also gutting to not be able to there and be a part of it all.
It was super hard not being able to be a part of the scene but whenever I was allowed to go home from Bristol for a break, I'd make sure I saw my friends or visited the skatepark. Over Halloween, I dressed up in a doctor's costume covered in blood and surprised my friends by showing up at the jam in the skatepark without them knowing I was coming. That was the first time I was able to have a pedal on the bike since being diagnosed and it was a super weird feeling being too weak to be able to do what I used to do, but an amazing feeling to just roll around on some ramps again.
Having cancer has given me direction. Before I was working two jobs just to fund what I was doing, like BMX. I was a bit of a drifter. I didn't know what I wanted to do but now I am a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. Having cancer has me focused to enjoy experiences and enjoy what I have around me, like the support of my friends and the beautiful place I've got to live my entire life in Cornwall.
I found out the hard way. I was a healthy 19 year old one minute, and then I was told I couldn't do the things that I liked. I couldn't go out to gigs, ride my bike, be around my friends, eat out, or get tattoos.
Everything that I wanted to do and enjoyed the most was taken away from me and I was on lockdown.
As soon as I could, I went out and started getting tattoos. I've got a Grim Reaper with 'Not Today' on it and I'm proof you can keep going, and that cancer won't beat me. Anything can happen - you can go outside and a bus can hit you, so you've got to keep going and ride it 'til the wheels fall off.