Kerry N
Posted by

Celebrating 5 years in remission!

Kerry N
Posted by
01 Aug 2016

My experience with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia...

On the 2nd June 2016 I finally reached the 5 year milestone and I was encouraged to write a blog for Bloodwise so here it is! I haven’t really done anything like this before so apologies in advance if it isn’t up to the usual standards….

I would often hear and read the devastating stories in the news of those who sadly lost their lives but the thing I relied on the most as a blood cancer patient undergoing treatment was the knowledge that there are survivors. This gave me hope and inspiration during the difficult times, and now that I’ve hit the 5 year mark I’m hoping I can use my experience to help others to see that there is a life after cancer.

Up until January 2011 I was quite healthy and I had never been in hospital before. Over a short period of time (just a couple of weeks) I started suffering with swollen/bleeding gums and bruising. I started to feel really poorly and I was admitted to hospital and given the news that I had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (an aggressive form of blood cancer) at the age of 21.

I went from leading a normal healthy lifestyle to suddenly being told that I had to remain in hospital and start chemotherapy within a few days of my diagnosis which came as quite a shock.

As a young adult I found the prospect of losing my hair extremely difficult, but I got used to this over time and it actually became quite a novelty how quickly I could get ready without having to wash, dry and straighten my hair, instead just putting on a wig!

I took part in a clinical trial and I had a total of four rounds of chemotherapy. I suffered various side effects including an “epic” nose bleed (I’m calling it epic because it was pretty big and didn’t want to stop) and also pneumonia from which I was admitted to intensive care. It was a rough time but despite all this I’m still here!

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy because it certainly wasn’t, far from it. I tried to stay positive and most of the time I did but there was still the odd occasion when I would have a doubt in the back of my mind wondering if I would actually live to tell the tale (here it is!).

The support I had from family and friends was amazing and the staff at the hospital were fantastic, I could never thank them enough.

I felt like there was a huge build up to the day when I had finished treatment and would be coming home but when the day arrived and I sat at home it wasn’t quite how I’d imagined it would be. Suddenly there was nobody checking my temperature and blood pressure every few hours which was actually quite scary. I’d spent around 5 months living with the doctors and nurses but they were no longer with me 24/7.

The support I found most useful was that of my fellow cancer buddies. Unless you have experienced cancer it is very difficult to actually understand what it is like. I received support from several charities who work with young cancer patients like me and I have made many friends along the way, some of whom are sadly no longer with us. The bond that cancer patients have is very special and it is amazing how easily you can get along just because you have experienced something similar. I was initially quite reluctant to engage and accept any support but when I did this was a turning point for me and I wish I had done it sooner so I would encourage anyone to get involved if you are given the opportunity.

My hair started to grow back, I slowly began to build up my strength, and I was able to return to work. I returned to the hospital every so often as an outpatient for check-ups to make sure the cancer hadn’t returned. Gradually the time between appointments has decreased and my check-ups have recently been made once a year.

There are still times I worry that it could return and I think this will be the same for the majority, if not all cancer patients but at the end of the day worrying about it is not going to change anything so I try not to dwell on this too much.

I now enjoy doing all of the things I used to do prior to having cancer, except now I appreciate the little things in life which I probably would not have done before.

5 years later I’m in remission and living a normal life…if you are going through a similar experience there is hope for you too :-)

 

 

Comments

Eleanor Baggley
02.08.2016

Congratulations on 5 years - wonderful news! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I can only imagine what a shock it must have been to get that diagnosis, but it sounds like you had an excellent support system around you throughout. I'm pleased to hear that you found others going through similar experiences to talk to - we've heard from many people that having the support of others can make such a huge difference. It's completely understandable to feel worried about it coming back and if you ever need some extra support, please do let us know. Best wishes for the future, Eleanor 

Lizzie Goates
09.08.2016

Hi Kerry, 

What a fantastic blog! So encouraging for others, and thank you for writing it. Just to echo my colleague Eleanor's words above, it is wonderful that you are now 5 years in remission, and your blog really will help others going through a similar experience. Thank you also for taking part in a clinical trial, not only are you offering support to others through this blog, but you also ensured future medication will be effective in treating blood cancer. I hope you stay in touch and let us know how you’re getting on, always lovely to hear from you. Take care LizzieWhat a fantastic blog! So encouraging for others, and thank you for writing it. Just to echo my colleague Eleanor's words above, it is wonderful that you are now 5 years in remission, and your blog really will help others going through a similar experience. Thank you also for taking part in a clinical trial, not only are you offering support to others through this blog, but you also ensured future medication will be effective in treating blood cancer. I hope you stay in touch and let us know how you’re getting on, always lovely to hear from you. Take care Lizzie

17.08.2016

Dear Kerry

Your blog is great, honest and inspiring. 

 

I have my Son, Ollie, going through exactly what you describe I will get him to read your blog. I'm hoping in time he will feel up to writing to others, just as you have, but maybe like you he will want to wait. It certainly has helped me reading your positive blog. Lots of love x

 

 

 

 

02.09.2016

Thank you for your comment :-)

02.09.2016

Thank you for your comment :-)

02.09.2016

Thank you for your lovely comment & I'm glad it has helped by reading it. I hope all is going well with your sons treatment & I wish you all the best for the future.

Kerry x