My name is Nesha Berry.
At 19 I was a normal teenager going to college and working full time at a bar in Wigan, and when I wasn’t doing that I would be out skating at the roller rink or the park with friends.
In October 2011 I found myself feeling quite ill very regularly. I’d have unexplained chest infections or pleurisy and the flu at least 3 times a month, and in August I got so ill I was admitted with suspected meningitis and my mum was told to be prepared to say goodbye. Thankfully I pulled through this and went to wake stock festival the day I was released.
These unexplained illnesses went on for three months. Then on the 19th of October I was in college getting ready to leave for the October holidays when suddenly I had excruciating pain down my left arm and I couldn’t breathe. I was rushed to hospital and checked for everything. Eventually they did blood cultures and told me to call my mum in. I had no clue why but I did it anyway. When my mum came the doctor arrived. He explained to us that my bloods had come back with too many white blood cells. He then told me that this could either mean a nasty infection or leukaemia. They told me I’d be moved to the young oncology unit the next day. And the only thing I could think about was “I can’t go there everyone will hate me because I have so much hair” which seems silly really but it's one of the main things you think about.
The next day I was transferred and put in an isolation room away from the other patients and given a bone marrow biopsy. The tests came back that I had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and if I didn’t start chemotherapy straight away there was an 80 per cent chance I wouldn’t survive through the year. So treatment started the same day and I rang college to tell them I had to drop out and work to tell them I had to quit.
I was kept in isolation for a month and given regular blood transfusions and chemotherapy and antibiotics. I was finally let out of hospital on the 20th of November with a 20 per cent chance of seeing Christmas. This was an amazing achievement and made us all so happy.
While I was an outpatient I had to go into hospital for treatment and antibiotics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and sometimes for the whole week if I got an infection or my blood counts were too low. And even though I had to spend most of December in hospital I still saw Christmas.
This intense treatment continued to June when eventually I was told I only had to see my consultant once a week for treatment. The freedom was amazing so the first thing we did was go on holiday to Scotland as a family. It was the happiest holiday we have ever been on and I even got to go in the sea.
When we got home I had to go into hospital because I’d picked up a line infection and needed my line removing, some antibiotics and a blood transfusion. But after that stay I was told I only had to visit every 2 weeks. With this news I started back at college and picked up a few shifts in my boyfriend’s shop. It was amazing to get my life back on track. So I planned a New Year trip to Paris with my boyfriend to Disneyland, this was the start of doing a long list of things that I’ve always wanted to do.
I decided that I don’t want to wait 'till I’m dying to complete my bucket list so this year I have ridden a rickshaw and a tandem, seen pandas, joined a gym and booked holidays to Amsterdam and Florida, ending the year with a trip to see the northern lights.
Now it has been 20 months since my diagnosis and I’ve come so far. I have made friends for life during my treatment and met the most amazing and lifesaving nurses and doctors. I have also started finding ways to give back. In May I helped out at a charity flash mob for CLIC Sargent, and attended a charity ball for bone cancer hosted by an amazing young lady who helped me through the hardest times but lost her battle earlier this year.
In July I arranged a group of ladies, some patients some friends and family, to run the Race for Life in Manchester. And now, with the help of Jess, I am hosting a charity ball to raise money for the Young Oncology Unit at The Christie and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
I met Jess in April this year on a trip the hospital had arranged to a spa. She is and amazing young lady who battled lymphoma. Since the trip we have been really close and I wouldn’t be without her. We decided to host a ball because it’s the best way of raising a lot of money to pay back in a big way to those who kept us alive.
Another reason is Hannah Booth. Hannah was the most amazing young lady who meant everything to me. She spoke to me when I was having the worst days and even though she was suffering she still cared about people and their happiness. Hannah passed away this year and it broke our hearts. I miss her every day and she will never be forgotten. And this ball is our way of trying to prevent us losing any more friends because the money helps keep them safe in hospital and to help conduct more research.
The ball we are hosting is being held in Manchester’s palace hotel on the 27th of September 2013 at 7pm. The evening itself includes entry drinks on arrival, a three course meal, half a bottle of wine per person, a raffle, a silent auction, music, dancing, photographers and hopefully celebrities. TGI Fridays are supporting us and putting on a bottle flaring show for after the meal.
It’s going to be an amazing event and we hope a lot of people can come support us and help us raise money for such great causes. To find out more please click here.