"In May 2016, just one week before my final A Level exams were due to take place, I began to experience severe stomach pains near my appendix area. While I had experienced slight pain in this area very occasionally in the past, the pain was much more obvious this time, and it became evident to me that something wasn't right. I saw my GP the next day, who suspected that I had appendicitis. From there I went to hospital, where appendicitis was confirmed as the only realistic cause of the pain. I underwent an appendicectomy the following day.
6 weeks later, I was asked to return to the hospital for a follow up appointment. I wasn't expecting to be called back and the letter from the hospital didn't seem to indicate that anything was wrong. Upon arriving at the appointment, I was shocked to learn from the surgical consultant that following the operation, a tumour had been discovered on the tip of my appendix. A subsequent CT scan indicated a possibility that some lymph nodes in my right colon may have been infected by the tumour.
So, in September 2016 I had to have a second operation, called a right hemicolectomy, to remove the right colon. A spread in two lymph nodes was removed through that operation, and subsequent scans have been clear. I will now have follow up MRI scans every twelve months.
Two specialist nurses from Teenage Cancer Trust came to see me. They sat down with me and my parents, discussed our feelings with us, and gave me a mobile number so that we could contact them if we had any questions. They provided information and comfort by attending some of my appointments with surgeons and other medical staff, as well as visiting me on the ward as I recovered from my operation.
During the nine months since, they have continued to be available, ready to offer support with such things as follow-up scans and blood tests and general advice. Despite everything that had happened, I was still able to achieve the required grades to get into University. However, due to the timing of my second operation, I had to defer my studies and take a gap year. I wanted to give something back during this time, as well as to help make a difference to others. To raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust and also for my local Church, I produced a variety of homemade greetings cards, which managed to raise over £1000 for both charities during the course of the year. I have also given talks in support of Teenage Cancer Trust at fundraising events in order to raise awareness.
I was given the all clear a few weeks after my right hemicolectomy. I feel so thankful that I survived, and while nothing can change the fact that a tumour was found on my appendix, the support I had from the Teenage Cancer Trust during my illness allowed me and my family to know that help would always be available. This, along with my Christian faith gave me a sense of hope and determination, that despite the fact I was facing the most difficult period of my life so far, things could get better in the end.