I wrote the following piece last August for a charity social media post. Thought I’d pop it on here to show that I had a goal set to become more involved in helping other patients, and feel that I am fulfilling that goal with this blog! 🙂
It’s a bit emotionally draining to write about my experience, but it’s better for it to be out here for everyone to see rather than laying dormant in my brain where it won’t have the chance to help anyone.
My cancer story began on April 21st 2005. 13 years on and I’m writing this from my student bedroom, having just finished University. I often forget that the child in this story was me, and that I somehow survived all the twists and turns that have brought me here, where I am able to share my story in a way that will hopefully go on to help other young people going through the same awful thing.
The general outline of my story is that I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in my right femur when I was 8, and had chemotherapy (Euro-Ewings standard procedure) and a knee replacement (Complete distal) to treat it — a year later and I was in remission. A very rare outcome.
Medically speaking, my treatment was rather straight forward — there weren’t many complications, not many infections or major catastrophes. I had to have ongoing orthopaedic treatment from the age of 8 until I was 18 due to the nature of the growing knee prosthesis I had, which required lengthening every so often. Ten years of leg surgeries without any real issues was a triumph in itself, with obvious thanks to the excellent medical care I was given. (Thank you NHS!) All the treatment I had was based in Oxford, with the oncology side of things at The John Radcliffe, and orthopaedic at the N.O.C.
My memories of these places are oddly fond, as although I was incredibly ill when there, I knew that I was in the care of experts and could trust in their choices. The harder part for me emotionally was actually once treatment had ‘finished’. I was a child when I was really ill, then a teenager with a ‘bad leg’, and am now a 21 year old with a ‘normal’ outward appearance. These transitions were difficult to know how to deal with, as I had no one to relate to. I hope that I can become that person for someone else.
We all know that cancer treatment is the worst, but I have many good memories of the really high points during and after treatment, which I thought would be nice to share with you all.
A few of the ones I think about often are:
My parents renting a stretched limo to drive me to an MRI scan (to see if my tumour had shrunk) I had to have on my 9th birthday, after I was upset about not having a ‘normal’ birthday.
My sister visiting me after school, seeing her succeed in so many things whilst I was having treatment, and being so brave as a young sibling of a cancer patient (she’s 2 years older than me).
Wearing my first pair of heels after having my leg stretched with an Illazrov frame.
Getting into grammar school, college, and University.
Sleeping in my own bed after a long spell in hospital.
Freshers week at Uni, when no one asked me what was wrong with my leg (the first place this had ever happened).
Now that I’m about to graduate with a degree in Illustration, I remember the huge role that art had in my journey, and I’m glad I never lost sight of how important it is to me. I now know that all those drawings and paintings in the isolation ward were in preparation for something!
I am now looking forward to the future, and hope to become more involved in helping people going through a similar journey, as I know that would have made my experience just a tiny bit easier.