Cancer is happening right now, which is why I’m raising money right now for Cancer Research UK. There’s no time to lose!
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I've found it hard to put into words my own story, bringing back so many of those difficult times, those of you who know me know how much this has effected my life over the years but I'm on the other side now and ready to give back!
In 2008 after several months of not feeling quite right at age 15 I was diagnosed with hepatacellular carcinoma - an extremely rare form of primary liver cancer. I had a 7 pound tumor removed from my liver, leaving me with one third of it left (which eventually grew back!). Following surgery and recovery I was then put on a course of chemotherapy for 6 months in my last year of school. When people ask me what this was like and how I coped, I can only describe it as poison running through my veins and led me to loose all of my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, I felt like I had lost my identity and that it wasn't me looking back in the mirror!
After the chemo, my hair started to grow back quite quickly and I was making a good recovery from the most difficult time of my life. Unfortunately after a routine scan it was discovered that a smaller tumor in my liver had reappeared around 9 months later after the original one that was found! I felt like i had gone through all that recovery and chemo for nothing and was having to go through the agony of it all again as well as having to break the news to everyone closest to me. I was quickly back into hospital and had the second tumor removed along with a seemingly fast recovery!
6 months or so later at another routine scan it was broken to me that the original tumor that was in my liver had now spread to both of my lungs the the form of several tiny nodules in each lung. By now I was around 17 and looking back I don't think I realised just how poorly I was. Fortunately I was able to have these removed through surgery after several operations on each lung I thought surely that was the end of it.
But then I was to face the biggest blow to date, it was then discovered that there there were some nodules in my chest cavity, which were too dangerous to operate on. Having already had chemotherapy and so many operations, my options were looking very bleak and it was at this point the discussions were more about managing them and the symptoms rather than curing the disease. At this point I was 19 and just felt complete shock, disbelieve and scared of death, I didn't want to die is what I kept telling myself!
I then had a letter about a course radiotherapy that was suggested could slow down the growth of what was happening inside of me. For around one month 5 days a week I would lie in a machine and be zapped 360 degrees, leaving radiation burns on my chest and back. After 3 months I went for a routine scan
and to all the consultants surprise after 3, 6, 9, 12 months the nodules seem to not only grind to a halt in growth but shrink at each scan, melting away until they were completely no more! Amazing! At this point I felt like I had really been given a second chance at life.
The rest is history, I gained my hair, strength and hope back - hospital visits went from 3 to 6 months to now once a year and 7 years on I haven't looked back since.
11 years on from my first discovery I am still finding it hard to come to terms with whats happened and I still feel like it is catching up on me now. I consider myself extremely lucky, to have gone through such a traumatic experience and still be here today, it has certainly changed my outlook on life!
I have wanted to do something like this for such a long time now but couldn't bring myself to do it, I want to do this in remembrance of all the friends I met along the way, my age who lost their battle to cancer and hopefully I can be an inspiration to everyone out there with my story.
Live for today as none of us are promised tomorrow :)