Hi, I'm Hannah and I was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia) ten years ago this coming September, aged 6. This week I have been doing some work experience in the head office of LLR; they're still an amazing charity. It's fair to say that without the research that has taken place over the last 50 years, I wouldn't be here today: that's quite an odd thought. I owe my life to scientists and doctors that I've never met before. There aren't many people who can say that.
Cancer is a strange thing: one two-syllable word (which no one wants to say out loud) has the power to turn your life, and the lives of those who are closest to you, around. And it certainly did. Nearly ten years on, and two years post the all clear, I still have the physical and psychological scars from the treatment to show for it. Yes, it made me stronger and proved that I could be brave and made me work harder for everything in my life (all the clichés apply). But it is, nevertheless, a horrible, disgusting disease that should not be around. I had the 'standard' treatment for ALL, but they really aren't 'standard' things for a six year old child to go through. I was prodded and poked, I puked, I cried, I moaned etc. I had operations, injections, procedures, scans, transfusions, blood tests and I must hold the world record for the most cannulas in a two year period. I lost my hair (twice. Pretty hard for a little girl who just wanted to play princesses and go to ballet). I got infection, after infection, after infection: a cold wiped me out for weeks. We missed holidays and family events I missed hundreds of days of school.
I read somewhere that bravery isn't a choice, it's an action, and that is completely true.
I have told hardly any of my peers about my cancer: most of the time, it isn't necessary for them to know. I find it hard to get the words out, but most people are supportive and sympathetic, even if they don't understand what I went through. Although this illness doesn't affect me by any stretch of the imagination on a daily basis, it has made me who I am. It frustrates me when this 'fact' about me gets spread without me knowing: I find it most helpful to tell people myself when I am ready.
And even now the future is unclear. I think that unclear things are the worst: I would rather just know. I could have fertility problems, heart problems, hormone problems, growth problems. And I have an increased risk of getting cancer again. That's all quite hard to come to terms with at the age of sixteen with all of my peers living blissfully unaware of these issues and what I might face.
My family and I have raised lots of money in the past for LLR (more so recently as my Grandpa was diagnosed with myeloma a year ago, but is thankfully now all clear) and the research that LLR carry out is astounding and needs to continue so that more people like me can beat cancer and live with the side effects that it has. While I am forever grateful that research has meant that I am sitting here today, there is still so much that could be done to ensure that children in the future don't have to sit here having gone through what I went through.