Monday 15th May 2017
"Aged 17 I started to feel tired 24/7. I was doing an apprenticeship where I was learning welding and electrics, and enjoyed playing football with friends, but even when I took a break and rested I had no energy. I stopped getting hungry and so I lost a lot of weight, I had sleepless nights feeling either too hot or too cold, and woke up with a swollen face sometimes. Then my symptoms got worse over 3 or 4 weeks. I decided to go and see my GP, who told me it was probably hay fever and prescribed me a course of antibiotics.
I returned 2 weeks later to see a different GP. She was concerned, and sent me to Kettering General Hospital, where I spent one night before being moved to Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre. I wasn't worried at this point – nothing had been confirmed and I wasn't in a bad way. But I was in hospital for several weeks, they did loads of scans and biopsies and it was at this point I started to face the fact I probably had some sort of cancer. It took a while for them to work out which one it was, but then I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
When I was told what cancer I actually had I laughed and made a joke of it. Some people might have disapproved, and I don't think cancer is something to joke about, but it was my way of handling it. I was determined to stay positive. Thoughts raced through my mind about how this was going to affect my life like playing sports, my apprenticeship, and my future. But I knew I was lucky to have my family and friends to support me and I was in the right place to be treated.
During my treatment I stayed in the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre. I had 6 courses of chemotherapy where for each course I spent a week at the unit, followed by 2 weeks at home. I was having 1.5 litres of different types of chemotherapy a day during each course. The courses were made gradually stronger and stronger and by the final two courses my tongue and throat swelled up, I was unable to talk, eat or drink and it meant I had to stay in over Christmas and into January.
The Teenage Cancer Trust unit was so nice, it didn't feel like a hospital. To have stuff like a games room and a place for visitors was such a huge benefit. It helps you escape from everything. After spending some time at Northampton General Hospital where there isn’t a Teenage Cancer Trust unit I really realised how important the units are. It played a huge role in helping me enjoy my spare time during treatment.
One of the best parts about the Teenage Cancer Trust unit was Bex, our Youth Support Coordinator. She was one of the main reasons I got on so well during my treatment. To have her support was so beneficial, I knew that for most of my stay I had someone to talk to anything about, whether it was a concern or just a chat. She always managed to make time for me to see if there was anything I needed. She brightened the unit and kept the mood up, which brought everyone together. Seeing and speaking to Bex every day kept up my confidence, and I know I have continued support from her if I need it.
On 23 February 2017, I was given the all clear. I had decided earlier in the month to push myself to get back to my old strength, and that I was going to climb Mount Snowdon, which I successfully completed on April 1st!
All the nurses on ward E39 are mine and many others' heroes, and I will never be able to show them how much I appreciate them saving my life.
I wanted to thank the staff from the Queen's Medical Centre Unit so I decided to set up a JustGiving page to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and Ward E39 at Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre.
As a lot of my close friends and family know, my last two treatments made me a lot weaker and made me struggle with a lot of things I used to find easy. So to set such a big goal encouraged me to push myself to improve my fitness and strength and will hopefully help me back to my normal self faster.
I set up a JustGiving page with the aim to raise £1000, and to date have raised over £4,900!"