Hannah M
Posted by

10 years on

Hannah M
Posted by
23 Jul 2015

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. 

Comments

28.07.2015

Hannah thank you for such a fantastic blog.

I, too, had leukaemia when I was younger which I didn't tell you when you were in last week and share yoru view that it's not something that needs to be said all the time especially after so long. You have my sympathy with the long term side-effects, too, I have the sceptre of a potential loss of fertility hanging over my head and have developed a lung condition which they believe is related to my treatment.

The charity are doing everything they can to make treatments less punishing and more targetted and I'm proud to be a part of that fight and want to give others the same second chance at life that I've been given.

You were an absolute pleasure to work with last week and I wish you all the best going forwards. Do stay in touch and if you ever want a job do drop us a line as I'd have you in our patient services team in a heart beat!

Enjoy the holidays now though and good luck with your GCSE results when they come out in August.

Anonymous
28.07.2015

Thank you Andy, I will keep in touch.

Anonymous
02.08.2015

Love your blog Hannah. Great to read when my 4 year old is going through ALL treatment at the moment. Helpful to read from a younger girls prospective.

Anonymous
02.08.2015

Hannah, you're an inspiration. x

Anonymous
02.08.2015

Hello, Hannah. My daughter, 11yo, had ALL at 5yo and AML at 9yo and had a bone marrow transplant. We are starting to see the late effects from the transplant, including fertility, growth and possibly others. I am looking for a friend for my daughter, someone who has gone through what she has, and can share experiences. Do you have an email we can contact you on? Thank you so much.

Anonymous
04.08.2015

I'm glad you found it helpful, it's a hard slog but I am living testament to the fact that research and treatment do work and that beating cancer is getting closer. I hope your daughter's treatment progresses well and that she gets better as soon as possible

Anonymous
04.08.2015

Thank you, I'm just proof that research and treatment do work to beat cancer x

Anonymous
04.08.2015

Hi, I'm glad you found my blog helpful, I would be more than happy to help your daughter and contact her- I understand that it's hard to find people who've had similar experiences! My email is hannahmaddock@blueyonder.co.uk x

Anonymous
27.08.2015

I could literally relate to your story Hannah! word-by-word. every single detail is a part of what I went through. Though, I had AML at the age of 14 and got relapsed in the brain an year after that (so basically went through all over again) there is so much I can recall by your post.
what more, I too this year would be Thanking Lord and celebrating the 10 years ;)
*cheers*