MY SUCCESSFUL BATTLE AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER
My name is Edward Garside and this is a blog about my successful battle against childhood cancer. In 2008, when I was just 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. This is the story of how I beat cancer and I hope cancer patients and people who want to learn about cancer (or more specifically Leukaemia) can take a lot from this blog.
Early symptoms and diagnosis
During early 2008, I started to feel very ill. On the 11th February 2008, which was my birthday, I was taken to hospital. I had unexplainable red marks on my legs. I was also extremely tired and very pale. I also bruised extremely easily. These symptoms were extremely worrying, so I went to hospital on the evening of my 8th birthday. The nurses and doctors were extremely worried about me so I had to spend the night in hospital. I do not remember too much because I was just 8 years old but I remember having to have a platelet transplant the next day. My first blood test was the real key to identifying that I had Leukaemia. My white blood cell count was very high and my platelet count was very low. These were both signs for concern. My blood test results were about as far away from normal as you can get. I was only 8 but I can still vividly remember that first blood test. It was so incredibly scary. A couple of days after I was admitted to hopsital, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a form of blood cancer.
Reaction to the diagnosis
At the time, I was only 8 years old, so it was extremely difficult to take in this shocking news. My family were upset but remained strong and extremely supportive. However, I felt extremely upset and scared. Being told you have cancer is not the news you want to hear just after your birthday. I was kept in hospital over the following few weeks and I began my chemotherapy straight after my diagnosis. My family and I remained extremely strong throughout the early stages of my cancer diagnosis. Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the hardest things you will ever have to go through. So it is important to remain as upbeat as possible during this period of time. As soon as the chemotherapy starts, you can begin to think about getting better. You can think about beating cancer. Remaining strong during the diagnosis is vitally important.
Details of my chemotherapy
My chemotherapy was extremely long. It started in February 2008 and did not finish until May 2011. It lasted for well over three years. The first 10 months of chemotherapy were the hardest. I had to take medication every day as well as go to The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital very regularly. During the first 10 months of intensive chemotherapy, I did not feel myself. I felt very ill a lot of the time and the most notable effect of my chemotherapy was that my hair fell out. My family and I remained upbeat and positive as we knew that I could beat cancer. The chemotherapy may have been very long but it was extremely effective because I entered remission after the first few weeks of chemotherapy. The doctors and nurses were incredible and the treatment was fantastic. I would say the first few months of my chemotherapy were the worst. My life was tured upside down and i had to take so much medication and have multiple operations in order to get rid of the cancer. After the first 10 months of chemotherapy, it gradually got easier to deal with. Don't get me wrong, it was still very tough and very diffcult. But after the first 10 months, I started to get used to all the drugs and all of the chemotherapy. I realised i had completed almost a year of the 3 years of chemotherapy. I was making excellent progress and this gave me the motivation to battle through the rest of the gruelling chemotherapy. So, the last 2 years of chemotherapy were very difficult, but I got through it. I maintained my mental strength and I was constantly motivated by thinking about the finish line of all this chemotherapy. Over the course of the final 2 years of chemotherapy, I still had to take lots of tablets everyday and i had to go to the hospital every week so they could check my progress. Having cancer as a child is particularly complicated because it can stunt your development. However, my height and weight were perfect for my age and my chemotherpay did not affect my development as a teenager and as a child, which I am very happy about.
End of Chemotherapy
On May 5th 2011, over 3 years since I was diagnosed with cancer, I successfully finished chemotherapy and beat cancer. The emotions I felt that day cannot be put into words. I was so happy and so were my family and my friends, as well as the doctors and nurses that helped me every step of the way throughout my 3 year journey. It is an overwhelming privilege to be able to say that I beat cancer. May 5th 2011 was a massive day for me because it was the day I had been thinking about for 3 years (since I started my chemotherapy). 3 years of chemotherpay sounded like an extremely long time, but I got through it. It was extremely difficult at some points, but I made it to the finish line. One particular thing that kept me going was the idea of living a normal life as soon as I finished my chemotherapy. Whilst i was having chemotherapy, I would think about seeing the day where i wouldnt have to have medicine anymore. I though about the day where i could live a normal life. That is what kept me going over the 3 years. Anyway, the day finally arrived and I simply cannot describe the emotions I felt. All i can say is, it felt like that 3 years of chemotherapy was all worth it. That feeling of sheer happiness made me realise that all this painful chemotherapy had been worth it. I was finally able to live a cancer-free, chemotherapy-free life. The idea of a completely normal life motivated me so much during all the chemotherapy. And after the 5th of May 2011, I was able to live a completely normal life.
Life after cancer and special thanks
Even though I beat cancer, it was difficult to return to a normal life as cancer affected me at a very young age. However, thanks to the brilliant support of people around me, I have been able to live my life happily and cancer-free.
I would like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Birmingham Children's Hospital and at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Their incredible skills and support helped me beat cancer and I would not have been able to do it without them.
I would also like to thank my family, who's support helped me through 3 years of gruelling chemotherapy. I would also like to thank my friends- if you are reading this blog, I would just like you to know how thankful and grateful I am for your support. I truly believe support from friends and family is absolutely crucial when fighting cancer. Nobody should face cancer alone. The support from my friends and family helped me so much and I cannot thank them enough. So, one strong piece of advice is: Be with your family. Be with your friends. They will help you through everything. Believe me, I know.
What I want people to take from my story
I believe that cancer patients and just anyone can take a lot from my story. Firstly, I believe cancer patients can gain hope and positiveness from my story: I was just 8 years old and I faced a battle against cancer. And I beat it. Be strong. Be positive. Be hopeful. Also,3 years of chemotherapy is a long time. It is a very long marathon but the finish line is reachable. You just need to maintain your strength and your belief. Because you can cross the finish line. And when that finish line is crossed, you will feel unbelievably amazing emotions. The last thing I believe people can take from my story is very simple and very clear: I am now 16 years old. I had cancer 8 years ago. I just finished my GCSEs and I am currently very healthy and living a normal life. My point is, it may be tough at some points, but in the end it is always worth it. The odds may look bad, but they are always beatable. Where's the proof that the odds are beatable? Well, that proof is sitting behind a keyboard, writing about his successful battle against childhood cancer. Keep believing, keep thinking positively. Because beating cancer is possible. I am proof of that. I just began College and I am studying the subjects I love. When I was going through all that chemotherapy, I never thought all this would be possible. So, finally, I would just like to say that it is possible to live a brilliant life, despite havng cancer. Because I had cancer when I was in school, my school attendance was poor. Up until Year 9 (about 13 years old), my attendance was below 80%. However, I started my GCSEs in year 10 and finished them last May. I did not let the after effects of cancer stop me from achieving my goals and ambitions. I came out with fantasitc grades, including an A*. So, believe me when I say that you can still live a happy life full of goals and ambitions even if you have cancer. When in was sat in a hospital room, there were points where I thought my education was ruined. But I didn't give up and now I am at the college I wanted to study at. You can still achieve your dreams even with cancer. I am proof of that. Thank you for reading.