On the 13th January 2014, at the age of 26, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leaukemia (ALL). My life, as I knew it, immediately came crashing to a halt. I was admitted to hospital the following day where I was put into isolation for over 6 weeks and began an intensive 10 month chemotherapy regime.
My diagnosis happened really quickly and came as a massive shock. I went to the doctors thinking I was just a little anaemic - I didn’t even feel that ill but my Mum was worried about me. My main symptom was having achey legs, which I put down to wearing heels and partying too much. My doctor even said she thought I’d burnt myself out - if only that had been the case!
Last year was really tough. Due to my weakened immune system I had to spend a lot of time in isolation. I was living and working in London at the time of my diagnosis but I decided to be treated in Southampton as it was closer to my family, who live on the Isle of Wight.
After successfully completing the intensive part of my treatment, I have now began my maintenance phase which lasts for 2 years and consists of me taking daily oral chemotherapy tablets along with an IV treatment and lumber punch every 3 months.
Although I’m physically in a much better place, I am finding it more of a mental challenge now that I’m back in the real world. Whilst having my intensive treatment I was in my own little bubble and now I realise how much my life has changed since my diagnosis. To be honest, I still don’t think it has sunk in. I don’t think it ever really will.
I find it difficult watching how my friends are progressing with their lives, whilst I feel as though mine has done a massive U-turn and been put on hold. While they’re getting job promotions, engagement rings, and buying flats, I’m now living back at home, jobless, with no boyfriend and with a weak immune system. I can’t help but feel a little bitter at times.
Because of my age I didn’t get a lot of support after my diagnosis. Initially I was allowed to use the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) facilities, however, during the course of my treatment the hospital staff decided I was no longer eligible, as I was over the age limit.
Fortunately, I have amazing support from my family and friends. However, as supportive as they have all been, no one really understands the feelings and emotions that you go through after cancer. Whilst I was at the TYA unit I met some really lovely people who were going through similar challenges as me, although they were a lot younger. I really connected with them and found it very comforting to be able to speak to people in the same situation.
Going through my treatment I always said that I would love to set up a charity for young adults. I was really excited when I discovered that Trekstock already exists. I think it’s so important to be able to connect with other young people going through similar situations. It's the best form of therapy. I’m so pleased to be able to be part of the Network.