Cancer. One word, that nobody wants to hear. Whether its yourself, a family member, a friend, your pet even, that one word changes everything. It’s everywhere, in films, books, media, reality. But for me, reality was one place I never expected to experience cancer. But I was mistaken.
I would say that my problems started in November of 2014. But infact, I had a pretty rough year. Don't get me wrong, it was full of fantastic memories - my first festival experience, going away with my boyfriend , receiving good grades, getting a job and more. But I also experienced alot of knock backs. And literally, on the 23rd of May I was knocked over by a car whilst crossing the road. I completely blacked out, which isn't surprising since I was thrown 30 feet down the road and ended up underneath a parked car. I only have vivid memories of that night; the sound of sirens, being knocked about in the back of a speeding ambulance and thinking what the hell just happened. I was taken to the royal London hospital where I received excellent care and attention. I ended up spending the night there, my first stay in hospital in all my 17 years. What a surprise I had coming ahead of me towards the end of the year.
I started to experience intense pain one Friday night. I literally felt as if my chest was crushing my insides. I had never been in so much pain and at one stage I thought I was having a heart attack. The pain seemed to intensify as I struggled and stressed, which lead to me having a panic attack. And the worst thing was, no-one was home to help me or calm me down. Both my mum and my boyfriend was in town and couldn't get to me until the early hours of the morning. I think when you experience such pain, your mind trys to block it from your memory as all I remember was trying to browse soothing music on spotify to help calm me down. And that, was the start of a grueling 3 weeks until my diagnosis.
We put our faith and trust in doctors and the NHS system. So when you are told you have a virus, or the pain is psychological, you believe them. I’m one of those people that tries to accept pain and power through, but honestly I didnt have any power left in me. I had been trying to get through to the doctors surgery for half an hour to be told there were no appointments left, I just broke down in tears and hung up on the receptionist and called my mum at work straight away. She then called and begged for a doctor to speak to me on the phone. Once I finally spoke to a doctor, I think he could hear the distress in my voice and said he will give me an emergency appointment and to come to the doctors straight away. So, that is exactly what I did at 10 o’clock, to be told that my ‘appointment’ was at 12. Again, in my emotional state, I broke down infront of a crowd of people and was seen straight away. But to my disappointment the doctor only said the same as the doctors beforehand had said, that I had a common virus, the rashes on my legs were from shaving and that I was drained from my emotional state and that I should come back to seek psychological help. Isnt that a mentally stimulating booster, making me think that I was depressed. But thankfully, this doctor sent for me to have a blood test done to put my ‘mind at rest’. That blood test, was the answer to my problems.
All in all, I I took 3 trips to A&E and numerous visits to my local doctors. All I needed was a simple blood test which took 3 weeks of agony for me to get. I had been in A&E 2 times previously almost screaming in pain and no-one thought to give me a routine blood test. I remember being stared at in the A&E waiting room. People looked at me as if I was a crazy person as they sat their with their sniffly noses, as if seeing someone in genuine pain was an uncommon sight for an A&E waiting room. But my 3rd visit to A&E, was my last.
Nothing is ever simple. I had my blood test done around lunch time, but I waited a long 5 hours or so to finally be seen by a doctor. As time went on, my pain subsided and it just became a waiting game. Me and my mum just sat in the waiting room, minding our own business and just hoping to go home soon. She quickly went outside to pay the parking meter when I was taken to a side room to be spoken to, the doctor said there was something not quite right with my blood and that he would be back. I just shrugged my shoulder when my mum returned and repeated what the doctor had told me, we didnt even bat an eye lid about it. So once again, I was told to go back to the waiting room. By this time, it was about 5 o’clock and a swarm of doctors gathered round behind me. Me and my mum actually joked about it saying how it was obviously clocking out time and the doctors were getting ready to go home. But to my surprise, they were all for me.
She sat me down. And she was very upfront about it. No hesitation. No trying to put it nicely. She simply said ‘We think you have Leukeamia’. Tears began rolling down my face. I was shaking. My hand covered my mouth. I said nothing. I didnt look at anyone, not even my mum who was crouched infront of me. I finally was able to make out some words. And im not going to glorify the situation, Im going to be honest. My words were, ‘Am I going to die?’.
So, on Friday the 19th of December, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. And my journey to recovery began at University College London Hospital.