A couple of years ago, when I was 15 years old, I suddenly started getting really tired. I lost a lot of weight and found a lump on my neck whilst doing my silver Duke of Edinburgh award. I left it for a bit as I just thought it was a cyst that would go away in time. However, it didn’t, and I went to my GP who wanted to send me straight to hospital. He wasn’t happy when they suggested it was nothing serious – they just wanted to give me antibiotics – but he pushed for me to get some x-rays and I went up to hospital the same day for those.
The next day, a Saturday, I went for a blood test. Those results and findings from the x-rays came back on the Monday. They found something suspicious in my chest and the lump in my neck. I was sent for a CT on the Wednesday then diagnosed on the Friday with a cancer, but they weren’t sure which one.
The following Monday I had a meeting with an oncologist at the Royal Marsden. I had a biopsy the following week at St Georges with the results coming back to me that Friday. It was then I was told I had Hodgkins Lymphoma. After that weekend, on the Monday, I started chemotherapy.
This time was so hectic – one minute I went from really healthy to the next minute having chemotherapy. It just didn’t add up. It was all crazy fast but they were worried about the tumour on my chest.
My chemotherapy was to be two weeks on, two weeks off for three cycles. During this I felt fine and was able to get on with life as usual. Then I changed to three days one week and two days the next. Initially, I was fine but then I got an infection and lost my hair. That was the worst bit for me. It took about a week to fall out, I loved my long hair. I got myself a wig which made me feel a bit better.
After my second lot of chemotherapy the consultant said there were no signs of active cancer cells – I was cancer free!
I still have regular check ups, they were once every three months now I go back once every six months. Going back to hospital isn’t too bad until I can smell the chemo – it makes me feel really sick even though I had no sickness during my treatment.
The worst bit for me is seeing lots of kids having chemotherapy. Even though I’m a young adult we all receive treatment in the same place.
The steroid tablets affected me the most. I had an allergic reaction and it killed a bone in my knees. This was difficult for me because I wanted to stay active but it was recommended I shouldn’t do anything but cycle or swim and I couldn’t swim because of my PICC line.
After my treatment finished I got in touch with YouCan to help me get back into exercise. They offered me 12 weeks of personal training with Shelley. I hadn’t been able to exercise for over a year due to my knees so Shelley took it slow. My first session my fitness levels were really low. Shelley knew she needed to push me but also knew when to stop. She understands because she’s been through a cancer diagnosis too. Since August 2017 my fitness levels have improved, my stamina has increased and this makes me feel much happier. It gets me out the house doing something, I hated sitting indoors all the time. In the sessions now I do a bit of cardio, some weight training and core exercises. I feel so much stronger. Shelley has also given me the confidence to do it by myself. She has given me a home programme and I’m more confident to go to the gym on my own too now.
Meeting new people at the Freddie’s Friends Support Group has been a great help. It’s been nice meeting people in your situation, who are close to your age and live local.
I’m really looking forward to the Teenage Wellness Recharge Day which is coming up. It will be nice to meet people my age who have been what I’ve been through.