What cancer were you diagnosed with?

Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)

What age were you diagnosed?

9 and relapsed at 12

What has helped you to thrive?

I’ve always had a huge passion and determination to never give up, and to stay positive. I’ve had an amazing team of doctors, nurses around me and getting me through it all at Great Ormond Street Hospital, National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery and UCLH. As well as the most wonderful family and friends who I know I couldn’t have got through all this without. Trekstock has been amazing as they have given me so much constant support and encouragement to believe in myself again and get me moving again after living for so long with the late effects of cancer.

Ellen's Story

My life changed when I was 9. I went on holiday to the Isle of Wight with my school and had to leave the same day as I was suddenly covered in bruises and as previous blood tests had come back as abnormal. I was absolutely distraught. I was rushed to Great Ormond Street that night and my world was turned upside down, and treatment started straight away. My normal everyday life had changed and I was in GOSH for 5 months. 

I then went on to relapse just under 3 years later, and due to late diagnosis I had a massive brain haemorrhage which left me unable to walk or talk for 6 months, meaning that as well as being on chemo, I was also having to have intensive occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy daily to get me walking and communicating again. It was honestly the toughest time of my life. 

I have been left with poor memory and facial recognition, hydrocephalus, chronic headaches/migraines, orthostatic tachycardia syndrome as well as exhausting chronic fatigue. Due to the side effects of treatment I have now had 9 brain surgeries and am at the hospital frequently. 

Despite all this, I am now back to work and I can’t believe I managed to complete the Renew programme. I am now incorporating exercise into my daily life and am a whole new person from where I was before the programme, when I couldn’t even run for a bus. My whole health has improved and I have lost so much weight. My health isn’t perfect and I’m still living with daily pain but I’m so focused on having as much of a “normal” life as possible and not letting my pain get in the way of things. Of course I still have bad days, and it’s then that I have to be kind to myself, even though I sometimes get frustrated that I can’t do what my friends can. 

I am so proud of myself. I look back to where I was a few years ago and I know that my 12 year old self wouldn’t have believed that I could have achieved so much.