Age: 19

Cancer type: Bowel cancer

When I was 18 my stomach started hurting and I was in a lot of pain. The right side of my stomach was sticking out and the pain kept getting worse. It was nothing like I had ever experienced before.

I went to my GP and was referred to my local hospital, Princess Royal Hospital, in February 2018. At first they just thought it was my appendix, but then they found 28 spots on my liver, nine of which were cancerous. I got diagnosed with colorectal and liver cancer – the news was heartbreaking, it was the very last thing I had expected. I was scared and it was a lot to take in.
 

Before my diagnosis I had been at college studying music. I was really active and played a lot of football, so I never thought that this would happen to me.

Telling my mum, brother and two sisters was also difficult. The youngest one is too little to understand but my older brother who lives in London came up immediately to be with me.

I was offered the choice of going to the Teenage Cancer Trust Young Person’s Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which is for 16-24 year olds, and the nearest place where I could be on a ward with other people my age. I was also offered the choice of being treated locally at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, which I declined. 

The adult ward had people who were a lot older than me and you see everyone, there wasn’t any privacy.
 

I started my treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital unit in March, and had chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells. 

I was told about the chemotherapy and that I would have a long stay on the ward. Being on a unit with other young people was great as everyone is so friendly and we supported each other. The nurses and Youth Support Coordinator were all so positive and organised activities for us so we were kept busy. Also being able to listen to music and watch football on the TV made such a difference to me.

I had an operation in September to remove part of my liver. And then in January 2019 I went back for more chemo at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I had four rounds in total, finishing in April 2019 – I had the usual sort of side effects that I’d had before, like throwing and diarrhoea, but I was on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit again, and they make you feel really welcome.

Whilst on the unit I was referred to Becky, a Teenage Cancer Trust clinical nurse specialist based in Shropshire, who visits me at home in between visits to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It takes me one and half hours to be get to Birmingham and the same to get back depending on traffic, so going to my local hospital to see Becky is so much easier.

She was there from the beginning of my treatment so she has got to know me and my family, and I have also got to know her. She is on the end of the phone if I need to talk about anything and that supports makes a huge difference to me and what I am going through.
 
Tyreese in the recording studio
 
I’ve got a four week break now and then have another surgery on my liver and some scans coming up – but I feel good, I just feel like myself. I’m a rapper, and I've stopped doing my music for now, but my producer is making some new beats for me and I’m definitely going to make more music.