What cancer were you diagnosed with?

acute promyelocytic leukaemia


What age were you diagnosed?

14


What has helped you to thrive?

Mostly are my friends around me. Also, I have met some wonderful people online. I love going for walks, I am lucky enough to be in the countryside where there are some beautiful places. 


Hatty's Story

One night I was sat on the sofa and suddenly I had an excruciating pain in my stomach. I was 14 years old so my parents rushed me to hospital and they immediately, in a panic, diagnosed me with appendicitis and I was in surgery within the hour, When I woke up my blood test results had come back and they realised that my blood counts were very very wrong. My white blood cell count was very low as well as other things.

When they studied my appendix they found leukemic cells and realised that my pain was coming from cancer cells building up within my organs. I was in a small town hospital so they moved me to a bigger hospital in the city of Oxford. There they did a bone marrow biopsy which confirmed acute promyelocytic leukaemia. This is a rare sub type of acute myeloid leukaemia and was though very treatable also very fast acting so they needed to treat me quickly.

They put me on a drug called ATRA, the simplest way to explain this drug is that it's a toxic dose of vitamin A and it's taken in a pill 1 pill a day and is not particularly pleasant. They also started me on arsenic trioxide infusions once a day for 50 days (I know this sounds awful, but it’s a very effective treatment) I stayed in hospital for that time. Because I was a high risk patient because my white blood cell count was so low I was also started on idarubicin which is a chemotherapy drug, this drug made me very very sick. However after this ordeal I did go into remission. Sadly this remission only lasted about two months.

They did the same cycle of treatment again adding a slightly higher dose of idarubicin. This did put me into remission however there was still leukemic cells in my spine and my lungs, they added in some radiation. I relapsed a third time about two years later by this time I needed chemotherapy into my spine as a lumbar puncture, my lungs were severely compromised and I began to have breathing problems. They put me on high dose Cytarabine which is kind of a last resort for this type of leukaemia however by some miracle it did work and though I didn't get put into complete remission I was well enough to continue with my life and learn to live with cancer.

What I would call my 4th relapse was when we decided to start trying clinical trials. The drugs of which I can't spell or pronounce so I won't even bother, but some of these were very very rough, they were given to me just before the pandemic so when we were having issues with my breathing the paramedics would turn up and say it's a high risk for me to be going into hospital that it is probably better for me to stay at home so will give you the drugs you need now get your breathing back to normal and then we'll leave you at home.

I was having seizures multiple seizures everyday it was a terrible time I was screaming in pain nobody knew how to help me, and by nobody I meant my housemate because of COVID-19 we where completely alone, it was a real lack of help due to the situation and honestly the last place I wanted to be with in hospital because I knew how risky it was because if I was diagnosed with COVID-19 I was probably toast. Now I've just had high dose Cytarabine alongside another trial drug which again I cannot remember the name. I'm in a lot of pain and can't eat without a tube.

Luckily I've met a lot of beautiful people online who have kept me going through this entire journey and I have a wonderful group of friends and now we're in lockdown again I'm very lucky to have such a wonderful housemate who looks after me whenever I need it. I am very tired at this point after 12 years of fighting I'm now 26, on relapse number 4, and I know that I'm very lucky to have got this far so I should be celebrating and I am, I'm very very grateful I'm mostly grateful for the people around me who have kept me going through the highs and lows a cancer diagnosis bring and I love them so much.