I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Advanced Hodgkin lymphoma in February 2012 at the age of 25.
I had found a lump in my neck but at first my GP thought that it was harmless. It was only when a second lump appeared within a day that I returned and I was sent for a full scan and biopsy. I had 17 different lymphoma tumours in my body, including one the size of a grapefruit inside my chest which I did not know was there. I only knew about the lumps in my neck.
I started chemotherapy treatment within a fortnight and I actually consider myself quite lucky in how the treatment affected me. I carried on working throughout treatment and only took 12 days off sick in six months of chemo. The main thing I suffered from was tiredness – I would be out in the supermarket or somewhere and not be able to continue and go home. I think in a way working got me through it – I didn’t have as much time to dwell on the situation.
As I had advanced stage Hodgkin lymphoma, I would normally have been treated with high dose chemotherapy, which can have severe side effects.
I took part in a clinical trial at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge that is helping patients get the exact level of chemotherapy that they need -improving survival rates and sparing those who do not need it from the side-effects of toxic treatment.
On the clinical trial I was initially put on a medium level of treatment, with regular PET scans to see how I was responding. As I responded so well I did not need to take any higher dose chemotherapy. I finished treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at the end of August last year and in September I was told that I was in remission.
I still go for scans and I will do for a few more years until I am given the all-clear, but they are becoming less frequent as time goes on.
I decided to take on the Great North Run in 2013 to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. I was a runner before I was diagnosed and it’s a great thing to focus on and train for.
Being diagnosed at the age of 25 was such a knock back. You think you’re invincible and I was not expecting it. The treatment has affected my lungs, so I get out of breath much quicker and I have to be careful. I want to prove to myself that I can still be fit.