15 years ago, I was diagnosed with an optic glioma brain tumour, when I was four years old. After my initial brain surgery, I had successive chemotherapy for 18 months in an attempt to shrink the tumour. The chemo was successful in shrinking the tumour, and I had two years of stable scans. However, in 2007, I received the devastating news that I had relapsed and the tumour had started to grow again. As a result, I had to endure a further 18 months of chemotherapy. During this time I also had to have a total 69 transfusions, including 13 blood transfusions and 56 platelet. I had to have these transfusions to replace the red blood cells and platelets that were damaged due to the chemotherapy.
After these 18 months I received positive scan results again, and I was blessed to be able to enjoy another two years off treatment. However, at the age of 12, my tumour started to grow again, at which point I was sent to Oklahoma to have pioneering proton beam radiotherapy. Since the proton radiotherapy treatment in 2011, I have had consistently stable scans!
Although my cancer treatment is is no longer ongoing, I have a lot of long term effects as a result of the treatment and the cancer. Due to my tumour being located where the optic nerves cross, I have lost my peripheral vision in my right eye and have lost almost all my sight in my left eye, so I continue to have frequent ophthalmology appointments, and this also means I’ll never be able to drive. I also attend regular appointments with my consultant endocrinologist to monitor my growth and hormone levels.
I was contacted by YouCan just a few months ago, with an invitation for their ‘Wellbeing Weekend’ in Kent. And to put it simply, the weekend was truly incredible. It gave me a chance to meet new people who had been through similar experiences of cancer, and being there together, supporting and understanding each other, was just amazing. I feel like I made lifelong friends during my weekend, and I’m so thankful to YouCan for making that possible.
During the Wellbeing Weekend, we had the opportunity to take part in lots of amazing activities, such wellbeing sessions, yoga and meditation, reiki therapy, walks through the countryside, and even a cookery session where we created pizzas topped with vegetables that we hand picked from the crop fields! Terrie, Sue and Natalie made us feel so at home, and created beautiful nutritious meals for us every day!
All the yoga, meditation, relaxation and reiki therapies left me feeling more relaxed than I have in a very very long time, and for that I’m so eternally grateful to YouCan.
YouCan gave us an opportunity to escape from normal life for a weekend, meet like-minded people, share individual experiences of cancer, and feel more relaxed and rejuvenated than ever before; ready to start the week anew.