Friday 24th April 2020

 

I had tumours, which is quite rare for a blood cancer. The tumours had eaten away at my pelvis and the vertebrae in my spine, and I had tumours all round my skull, crushing on my eyes. They said if I’d left it a few more days I’d have been blind and paralysed.

I’d gone from being a 16-year old kid with a future in front of him, and these big hopes and dreams, to being pushed round in a wheelchair by my mum. That was a hard thing to swallow.

I had to have chemo for three years. I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, couldn’t wash myself. I went from being independent to totally reliant on everybody else.

So I had no idea who or what I was going to be when I finished treatment, or whether I’d still be around after three years, cause you don’t know.

With the high dose of steroids I was on, I gained a lot of weight which is one of the side effects. That was the biggest struggle for me. I gained almost five stone.

Because my pelvis had been fractured, I was immobile really. And that lasted for a year. I went from a wheelchair to a Zimmer frame, and then two crutches to one crutch.

Because the tumours had crushed my nerves in my spine, I couldn’t feel my right foot – I still can’t feel it now – so whilst I was trying to walk I kept falling over, and obviously I had no balance, so I’d fall over and I’d get back up again and I’d fall over again.

And it took me about a year to get to grips with being able to walk and not feeling my foot, which is quite hard to imagine. I just took it from there, really, and just tried my best to keep going, keep my head down and keep focused.

Slowly but surely I got better and persevered, and I got better with my walking, my general fitness and health.

I always try to set realistic goals and set out a plan to achieve them. If you just set goals that are hard to achieve, then when you don’t achieve them, for me I take it personally. I think ‘that’s my fault I didn’t do that’, rather than setting a realistic goal, making a plan, working towards it and then achieving those goals, and then working from there.

So that’s what I did. It was taking small steps – walking to the end of the hall maybe, and then walking up and down some steps.

Whatever I was doing, I was setting realistic goals and just making it positive and moving forward.

Terence speaking at a Teenage Cancer Trust Find Your Sense Of Tumour event

I was lucky enough to go travelling in February [2019] and I just came back a couple of months ago. It allowed me to test my fitness. I don’t know if you know the Lord of the Rings films, but Mount Doom is in New Zealand and you can actually climb up and over. It’s called the Tongariro Crossing and it’s 12 miles.

If someone said to me five years ago you’d be climbing 12 miles up and over a volcano, I’d have thought ‘no chance of that’!

But through the hard work I’ve done, I did it in just under six hours, which is quite a good time. It just showed me how far I’d come and how much you can achieve if you just put your mind to it.

I wouldn’t change my cancer diagnosis for the world. It’s led me to where I am now, it’s made me the person and the character I am now, and I’ve never been more motivated, more determined, I’ve never been as physically fit, mentally fit in my life.

I just think if I can do it, then all you guys can do it, and we can all do it together.