Just over a year ago I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and it would be impossible to try and give details on everything that has happened in that time. However, I'd like to try and describe the events leading up to my diagnosis and the emotions that immediately followed.
Unfortunately, I had a bad reaction to these antibiotics (later I found out that my Grandpa is also allergic to them) and a fist sized lump appeared in the upper right hand side of my neck. I had woken up in the early hours of the morning with my eyes literally sealed shut with that grimy sleep gunk and this lump in my neck!
Instead of waking my parents like most people probably would have, I stumbled downstairs where I pulled open my eye lids and checked out my symptoms online on the NHS website. Most signs seemed to point to glandular fever or a blood infection and leukaemia was the very last potential prognosis on the page so I didn't give it too much thought.
It was only at 5:00am that I decided to wake up my parents who kept calm and told me all the things that I needed to hear to prevent me from panicking too much, reassuring me that we'd visit the GP again the next day to get some new tablets. That Monday my mum took me to the GP and as the lump was still quite prominent in my neck they took a few blood tests and sent us home with the advice to take Paracetemol. I decided to get an early night and then at 9:30pm our GP called and said it was vitally important that we get to Stroud hospital as soon as possible.
What happened next is still a bit of a blur and I only remember disjointed segments of the next few days. That night I was taken to Stroud and then very quickly to Gloucester hospital where I was put on the children's ward. I have almost no recollection of what happened from Monday night to the next Wednesday but I will never forget the moment I was told that I had cancer.
Of course I knew that Leukaemia was cancer but it was as if a part of my mind was actively denying it, to the rational side of me. I know it's very cliché to say that after hearing shocking news you hear "white noise" but genuinely I didn't hear another word of what came out any of the Doctor's mouths. I sat on that bed, propped up against the pillows and was completely unmoving, utterly still.
It was at that point that I requested that everyone leave the room, interrupting the Doctor mid-sentence. I lay back trying to compose myself, too weak even to get up to walk to the window and then I called my friend who was in a lesson as it was still only 10:30am. I remember being so furious with him and that's when I began to get hysterical due to him not picking up his phone!! How ridiculous is that?! When he did pick up, I told him straight away through heaving sobs, but made him swear not to tell anyone as I hadn't even told my sister yet and if she found out through anyone but me I could never forgive myself. However, I didn't feel that she could be told through a phone call, so my friend had to keep it a secret for the rest of the day which, when I reflect on now, I see was an incredible ask of him, but at the time I hadn't given it too much thought.
Obviously back then, I had no idea how much my life would change as I believed that cancer just didn't happen to people my age. In my mind it was only people in books and films who were diagnosed with it and even then, purely for the use of a convenient ending to tragedies.
I realise that this blog is very open but it is an honest recount of my feelings now and in the past and will hopefully be of use to anyone that may be experiencing something similar, or may want to understand how people feel about being diagnosed. I cannot reiterate enough just how much I encourage people to ask me questions if they have any at all, no matter how "odd" or "insensitive". Please do not hesitate to get in contact.
I'll be attempting to post a couple of times a week and I look forward to any response I may get.