In December 2003 at the age of 27 I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with tumours in four different areas of my body. I had never heard of this type of cancer and used the internet and lymphoma charities to gain more information.
I had found a lump in my neck near my collar bone. I was not worried at the time but thought I better get it checked. The GP was not too concerned and thought I may be fighting off infection in my glands, but a referral was made to get it checked.
Within a month I had been operated on to remove the lump in my neck and started chemotherapy at Falkirk Royal Infirmary. The oncologist had told me it was an aggressive form of cancer and time was limited to make plans for fertility treatment to preserve any of my eggs, should I want children later in life.
I knew I had to concentrate on getting well so went through with starting the chemo within a matter of two weeks. Into the second week after treatment my long blonde hair began to fall out, which I was most concerned about as I had a sponsored head shave charity night to attend and needed some hair left for the occasion! Luckily I managed to get my head of hair shaved that night along with other members of my family and friends and some customers in the pub.
Between us we raised £7,000 for the hospital and lymphoma charities. Six months passed surprisingly quickly as there was so much going on and a few months later I was told that I did not require further treatment. I was in remission and after annual checks I was discharged five years later.
Eight years on I am married with three year old twins, which were conceived naturally. This was a total shock to me, as I had always expected to have had difficulties starting a family because of the effect of the chemo. Very often I thank my lucky stars and realise the situation could have been so much different had I not acted quickly in getting checked by the GP and his prompt action of making a referral.
Supporting Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is so important and touches so many people's lives. We need to raise awareness and increase knowledge within the public domain so it's as widely known as the other more familiar cancer research campaigns. This in turn may help to save more lives and allow others to be able to have such positive stories to tell like mine. I know I'm one of the lucky ones.