Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Cancer Free Christmas

As everybody will be unwrapping their gifts on Christmas Day, I will be too, already knowing I have received my biggest gift. That is being cancer free.
I am lucky that I will be able to celebrate Christmas in the comforts of my own home, surrounded by my family, instead of being in a sterile hospital surrounded by nurses and machines that will just not stop bleeping!
However, there are people who will not be able to do that this year, whether that be because they have cancer themselves or someone they love does. Maybe for the second or third year running, they may not be able to do that next year either. Perhaps this will be their, or their loved one's last Christmas.
So, as you unwrap your gifts and eat a truly horrendous amount of food, please give a thought to those in hospital for any reason this holiday season, I know I will.
Thank you all for your support over this last year, and I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. I'll be back in the new year!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

An award?!

Last Sunday I attended a Christmas ball with my parents and the rest of the team from the chip shop my parents run, Burton Road Chippy. There's an industry magazine that we are involved in and are readers of which is called Chippy Chat, and this ball was organised by the editor of the magazine Austen (hello Austen if you're reading this!)
My Mum has often shared things on Facebook from when we were raising money for the Race for Life etc. so other chip shops were aware of my cancer diagnosis and had very kindly donated too. Many of these had also been following my blog, and I had many people on the night say how pleased they were to hear my good news.
For the last couple of years Austen has started the event with 'The Golden Chip Awards' which included categories such as 'Best Scraps' which our shop had won the previous year and 'Beyond the Call of Duty'. He came to the last award of the evening and said that he had followed my journey and I'd beaten the big C, and presented me with a 'Remission Accomplished' award!
I was given a standing ovation as I collected the award from the front, and honestly I haven't been that happy in such a long long time.
So to Austen and anybody else who was there reading this now, thank you all so much for your kindness and support that evening. It's made such a huge difference and given me a confidence boost.

Friday, 4 December 2015

When did I think I had cancer??

I'm going to take it back to the beginning when this all started, and ask myself a question; when did I think I had cancer?
When I started to feel unwell I never thought I had cancer, that would be pessimistic. Even though I had lumps in my neck I could feel and see, I assumed it was infection. I can pinpoint the moment when I thought it was serious.
I had an ultrasound scan to see the position and size of the masses. They showed up on the scan screen as massive black circles. One on my left, and another two on my right. That was the point. Right there. I got that feeling of panic rising from my stomach. The doctor then said he needed to go and 'think' about what to do next. I thought I would be having an FNA (five needle aspiration) which would suck out a few cells from the tumour. When I was told I would now be having a biopsy instead, I knew.
Moral of the story? You know yourself, if you feel unwell for no obvious reason for an extended length of time, please seek medical advice. Although it was unlikely that my symptoms presented cancer, it still was.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Now what?

My cancer has gone. It has been my life pretty much for the last 7 months. So now what?
I still want to go to university, so I have plans to restart my A-levels in September. Going back to school for me means returning to normality.
I put on a lot of weight because of the steroids combined with not moving or doing exercise because of the pain. I haven't made any changes to the sort of food that I eat but the weight is beginning to come off as I become more mobile. Fitting back into the clothes I wore before I was ill means returning to normality.
I have a part-time job in my parents fish and chip restaurant, and I haven't worked since March, meaning I didn't work on the busiest day of the year which is Good Friday. Going back to work means returning to normality.
There's one other thing. I don't want to be known as a 'cancer kid' or names of the like. I don't want anything that I accomplish in the future to be tarred with the brush that I was ill. I want any achievements I make to be taken on their own merit. I am no different than I was before.
It's time to get my life back.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


The day I've been waiting for for a very long 7 months finally arrived yesterday, as my consultant confirmed that I am in remission. Tomorrow I am having my port-a-cath removed (at 7.30am!!) and I will be changed to 3 monthly appointments with my consultant at QMC. At some point after I turn 18 I will be transferred to the adult services at City Hospital.
What I didn't know beforehand was the difference between remission and cure. Remission, which is sometimes known as NEC, means there is no evidence of the disease that is detectable using PET scans, X-rays, blood tests etc. You are not classed as cured until after 5 years, as this is the time you are statistically most likely to relapse, although my consultant said some people affected by Hodgkin Lymphoma especially relapse outside of this period, so it's about being aware without becoming a hypochondriac.
I am just so relieved, and very very happy. Thank you all for all your kind words and support, it really means a lot, and thank you for reading my blog.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

My Radiotherapy Playlist

In the radiotherapy treatment suite I was able to bring my own music to listen to, and I was glad I could! It was calming in what was a pretty claustrophobic situation, not being able to move and having a plastic mask pressed so close to your face you can't open your eyes. Most of the songs listed below have a special meaning to me, whether that be because of the title, lyrics or the last time I listened to them. Listed are the name of the track, album and artist.

"Bad Blood" - Bad Blood - Bastille
I have a type of blood cancer, so I thought the name was appropriate even though they don't literally sing about bad blood; really good song though.

"Bad Blood" - 1989 - Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar (song on album without ft.)
Same reason as why I picked the track above really!

"Ink" - Ghost Stories - Coldplay
This was alarm that woke me up on my first day of chemotherapy, so it reminds me of how far I'd come by the time I started radiotherapy.

"Holding On" - Holding On - Johnny Stimson
Used in the Bupa advert for their 'Cancer Survivorship Program', the advert made me realise that I will have a life after I beat this, and shows a man getting his life back on track as pieces like the doing the school run and going back to work fall back into place.

"Fourth of July" - American Beauty/American Psycho - Fall Out Boy
I used to listen to a lot of Fall Out Boy before I was diagnosed, so it reminds me of better times really! This is my favourite song off their most recent album.

"Hallelujah" - Death of a Bachelor (released Jan 2016) - Panic! At the Disco
I downloaded this not long after I found out I wasn't having any more chemotherapy, so it's a real 'pick me up' sort of song.

"Wait" - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - M83
This is song used in the film 'The Fault in Our Stars' based on the novel of the same name by John Green. In a weird way, the novel and film make me feel better. The main character Hazel has terminal cancer, so it makes me appreciate my position more.

"Mercy" - Drones - Muse
Being faced with your own mortality (when I was diagnosed my mind went to the worst case scenario) makes you feel merciless to some extent, so I related to the title.

"Therapy" - Nothing Personal - All Time Low
I remember thinking how stupid the name chemotherapy was. I imagined anything that was a 'therapy' as relaxing and calming, not horrendously painful and ultimately traumatic. Then I heard this song, and the lyrics 'Therapy, you were never a friend to me' made me realise that if these 'therapies' weren't available I don't know what I'd do, so chemotherapy and radiotherapy are simultaneously my friends, and not my friends.

"Superheroes" - No Sound Without Silence - The Script
I went through a phase where I just played this song on repeat - I just rediscovered my love for it!!

"Cancer" - The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
This song is sad, but I can feel the pain and heartache in the voice, and the lyrics remind me of much worse times. It doesn't make me feel sad, I just appreciate that it's better now. I have to keep looking forward really.

"Good Life" - Waking Up - OneRepublic
Despite the treatment causing me pain, making me tired etc. this song reminds me of how really I should be thankful to still be here, and I really am.

"Fight Song" - Fight Song - Rachel Platten
It has been a fight and struggle at times along the way, so I find strength from this song. I find it empowering.

"Never Let Me Go" - Ceremonials - Florence + The Machine
I've always really enjoyed listening to Florence + The Machine, but this is by far my favourite album. This song seems to be about surrendering, in this case to the ocean, but it made me realise that surrender in my case is the cowards way out. You can't let cancer become your life, your life just happens to feature cancer.

Music really is my escape, and I also really enjoy it. No matter your current situation, I can guarantee there is a song out there you can relate to, and it makes you feel less alone and more supported. It can bring up all different kinds of emotions, and to be able to overcome things, you need a way to feel and express them, even if that involves singing very, very badly into a hairbrush.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Dear Cancer,

Dear Cancer,
I've never liked you, and neither has anybody else. I never asked for you to come into my life, yet here you are. You've frightened me, my family and my friends, and have placed an element of uncertainty in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. I can never be complacent again.
The last 6 months have been terrible, but you are more than welcome to them if it means I can have the rest of my life. You made me have to stop my studies (for now!) and gave me multiple trips to the hospital. You made me base my day around when to fit in the 40 tablets I needed to make me feel a little more human. Some of these tablets made me angry, depressed, and are believed to have contributed to my first seizure - but it's your fault not theirs. They are the good guys, you are not.
You took my hair, my figure and my confidence, but you will not take my personality - I refuse to let you take away who I am. I am still me after all of this, and I am proud. Although it is not official that you have left me (yet) I feel like you have. I know there is a chance in the future that you might visit me again, but I will be up for the punch up again if needed.
That doesn't mean you have the right to now go and bother someone else, but no doubt you will. I hope that soon a generation won't know what you are, but for now we will continue to will you away.
From Just Another Person You Chose To Affect

Friday, 2 October 2015

FINISHING RADIOTHERAPY... but what's next?

I finished my 11th and final session of radiotherapy on the 29th September, and it felt amazing. Compared to chemo it was a walk in the park, despite the fact I encountered a few side effects; a sore patch on my back similar to sunburn, a sore chest, pain when breathing deeply and indigestion/heartburn. I was treated mainly at the Nottingham Radiotherapy Centre at City Hospital, although for 1 week I was moved to the main hospital building while machines were updated.

For the treatment I was clipped into the bed, which was plastic and very narrow, using this mask.
The mask was made using thermoplastic, which becomes bendy and malleable after being put in warm water. This was then placed over my face and shoulders, before being cooled with ice packs for 10 minutes, and I can definitely say it was cold alright!
As the mask clips into the bed, it means that you can't move at all, which is its sole purpose.
The grey clips ensure the mask, and therefore you, are placed in the same position on the bed each time. The white sticker with the cross was the reference point for where the laser needed to cross to ensure precision placement of the machine, and therefore the x-ray. The machine was able to spin 360 degrees around me, meaning that the areas could be treated from the front and back.
Because of where some of the tumours were, above my collarbone, I had a headrest placed behind my head that had a wedge underneath my neck to tilt my head backwards. It wasn't the most comfortable of positions, but for 10 minutes each day I could put up with it. I also had to wear a navy blue gown as it had velcro on the shoulders so they could be rolled down to fit the mask, and I'm wearing it in the pictures below. (You don't have to tell me by the way, I know it is the height of fashion?!)

Now it is a case of waiting until my next PET scan, which I have been told will be in around 2 months. This is because the treatment continues to work for some time, which is why the side effects don't subside immediately. After this point, assuming I'm clear (fingers crossed) I will then have to have another short operation to have my port-a-cath removed. Then that's it! Well pretty much - I will have to return to QMC/City on a regular basis for the next 5 years but for tests to check that I'm still in remission, but this seems like a small price to pay for the rest of my life :)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

How to: Become a Pharmacist

Easy! Just develop a serious condition that requires a range of medications to offset the side effects of the treatment you receive. In my case my Mum was the main 'pharmacist', and at the peak she was giving me 40 tablets a day.
These have included: Lactulose (although this didn't really do anything), Movicol, Prednisolone, Domperidone, Granisetron, Norethisterone, Paracetamol, Gabapentin, Sevredol, Fentanyl patches and slow release Morphine. I've had a range of different chemo drugs too, that we had to learn the name of so that we knew how long we were going to be at QMC as they took different amounts of time on different days: Vincristine (bleugh!), Etoposide, Doxorubicin, Cyclophosamide and Dacarbazine.
We were given a lot of different leaflets, but none prepared us for the amount of baffling names of drugs. Also, dealing with that many tablets under stress that a mistake could cause problems and under the initial shock of the diagnosis makes the job much harder. Help with that, such as organisation or writing out a plan etc., I think could reduce this stress.
Now I'm coming off painkillers also means that the amount of certain tablets changes between morning, lunchtime and evening. Again, this must be done carefully and slowly to ensure no withdrawal symptoms, and this is a balancing act in itself - however there has been much more help with this.
Despite the stressful situation, she did a great job. Thanks Mum :)

Saturday, 26 September 2015

"You're so brave!"

A line which so many have said to me over the last 7 months. I'm brave for getting on with treatment. Am I?
I understand that people say that to support you, let you know they are thinking of you and to make you feel better about the way you are dealing with the situation - but I don't feel brave. Firefighters, police, the armed forces and paramedics - they are brave, walking into situations they may not know anything about to help or protect people that they don't know, so in comparison I'm just not.
At the end of the day, and this is the brutal truth, I faced 2 choices when I was diagnosed: have treatment or die. So I basically had one choice which meant sacrificing 6 - 9 months of my life in order to have the rest of it. That seemed like a pretty fair deal.
I appreciate all of the support I've received from family and friends, and with 2 radiotherapy sessions left, that's probably why I feel like this, as hindsight (as usual) is a wonderful thing, and for me is like wearing rose tinted glasses as I know chemo was bad, but don't remember it being that bad now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Using a wheelchair

I am very lucky that I have only ever used a wheelchair once before in my life when my leg was in a cast, but the side effects of chemo meant that for a few weeks I needed to use a wheelchair when out and about as I couldn't walk far. I have had some interesting experiences whilst using it.
My Mum pushed me the majority of the time, saving my arms, but we have hit things in shops that maybe don't consider the width of a wheelchair quite enough. Lifts are usually available in shopping centres etc. but they don't think about making them large enough to turn the wheelchair around whilst in there so it can be pushed out forward rather than being struggled out backwards and perhaps into the path of other people.
Dropped kerbs sometimes weren't quite dropped enough either, meaning we had to reverse over some so that the larger wheels could negotiate it. Once we parked in a car park that when we tried to cross the road from it, we realised the kerb wasn't dropped opposite it, and rather that it was dropped 150m further down the road. This meant I had to be pushed down the middle of the road, with my Mum running as fast as she could behind me: not exactly ideal.
As much as I'm sure disabled access has improved over the years, from my short experience I've spotted several things that just haven't been thought through properly.

Monday, 31 August 2015

"You're just adding to the grey!"

The what feels like a saga regarding my scan results continues. I had a PET scan several weeks ago which determines whether I have responded well enough to the treatment to have no more or whether I need more; which could be radiotherapy or high dose chemotherapy or, if it got to this stage, transplants. My scan came back and my consultant said that because he was following the German protocol for my treatment that he would send it to them for a second opinion as it could not be decided whether the nodes in my chest were normal or still cancerous. I went back to the hospital on Thursday and was told that the specialists weren't 100% happy with what the German team had recommended for me, which was radiotherapy, and that my scan had now been sent to UCLH in London for a third opinion. It was explained to me that my results were pushing the limits of what the scan can detect and was much like very high pitched music - some people can hear it and some people can't, meaning some specialists were saying it was still cancerous and some were saying it was normal.
Later that afternoon I visited who could be my radiotherapist who explained to me the risks of having radiotherapy and side effects. He explained how much I'm in the grey area and that if I was an adult in the same situation that I would automatically be having radiotherapy and that Hodgkin lymphoma in a 17 year old is not really any different to a 23 year old. I pointed out that I'm 18 in 7 months, and he simply replied, "You're just adding to the grey!"
I would rather have the radiotherapy than not. That might seem odd, but in my head not only does the risk that the cancer hasn't gone outweighs the risks of having the treatment, but I would much rather be over treated than under treated. It would put my mind at rest, that I had finished the job, to have it. I'm getting more sure each day that the radiotherapy will be happening the more I think about it.
It gives me a lot of comfort to know that my case is being considered to such a depth. People criticise the NHS, and I'm not saying that it doesn't make mistakes, but I am immensely impressed with what is a free service. I have been treated incredibly well.
But nothing is ever straight forward with me! Hopefully I will get the final decision soon.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Day in the Life of a Chemo Patient

After having this blog for a while now, I realised that I've never shown or explained how and when I receive my treatment - I'm used to it so that it's normal, and I only seem to remember it's not if my friends ask me questions. So, last week I thought that I would take some pictures and show how the process works. The pictures aren't gorey in anyway (I can't cope with it myself still!) but I apologise if any of them offend you.
This is the needle that's used to administer the chemotherapy. Before I started treatment I had an operation to have a single lumen port-a-cath installed around my ribcage. A tube then joins a vein in my neck to give the treatment. This means that I don't have to have drips inserted into my hands for each treatment, which at one point would have meant having that done 5 times a week. The red line is the small scar from the original operation, and I have cooling spray put on my skin so I don't feel any pain or discomfort from the needle, which can be left in for up to a week. The needle keeps itself in place naturally when correctly inserted, but tagaderm stickers are placed over the top to keep it sterile.
A Carefusion drip is used to infuse the treatment. Pressure is used to push the liquid from the bag into my bloodstream and is completely painless. Some drugs are administered by syringe straight into the tube attached to my needle, one of these that I have is called Vincristine. The chemotherapy that is administered using this machine is protected from sunlight with a brown bag as it reacts with the light. This picture shows a flush of saline which has to be used between each drug to make sure I receive the full dose.
The machine is set by the nurses to run each drug at a different rate to get optimal results from each. This means that two nurses must check the drug, my name, date of birth and rate of infusion before starting treatment. The machines can be pretty annoying though, I had one machine that stopped because I coughed, and another that used to stop because I sneezed! I get there has to be safety features but I think that's a bit much.
I am unsure what the next step is for my treatment, and I will not know until next week so I am just focussing on finishing these steroids which make me hungry, angry and a bit like a dragon.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Where I've been?! + Race For Life and being featured in the paper!

It's been a while! I had 4 weeks off chemotherapy in which I tried to do as much as I could before starting again, so I spent a lot of time with family. Now I'm back on chemo and have nearly finished my 3rd cycle and have had a pretty bad week, hence silence until now - but much has happened!
A team of eight of us including my mum, sister and cousin did the 5k Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK at the Lincolnshire Showground. They definitely had the hard job as I was in my wheelchair so they managed to shove me round just about! We still have some donations coming in but we have raised over £2000 which was so much more than I ever expected and I am so glad we have been able to make such a huge difference to a charity whose research could eradicate all cancer in the future. Our JustGiving page is still open, and if you could donate anything at all then that would be amazing.
I have also been featured on page 56 of this weeks Lincolnshire Echo with my parents, which discusses my story and also warning signs and symptoms of the cancer I have. Finding cancer early makes it more treatable, so I am glad that it plays such a large part in the article. As many people now survive cancer as die from it across the board, but more awareness and finding it early will improve those odds.
I update the Facebook page for this blog a little more often with smaller stories and things I find, so feel free to give it a like too -
Hopefully it won't be as long before the next blogpost, so see you then - Tash :)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

My First Blood Transfusion

When I'm not regularly visiting QMC for chemotherapy, I have a community nurse that visits me at home to take a blood sample to be tested for a range of different things. This day I was feeling ill like I would before I was diagnosed and had a headache, and sure enough the sample showed I had a low red blood cell count and that I needed a blood transfusion. This was on Friday the 12th and it was organised that I would be going to Lincoln County (my local hospital) early on Saturday to have a sample taken to be matched with the correct blood type.
This was then sent to Sheffield to be matched, and then the blood was sent back to Lincoln to be transfused. I've always wanted to know what blood type I am, O+ as it turns out, so for me that was a bonus. I had to have 2 and a half units transfused that was calculated by my weight and blood count, which took around 7 and a half hours meaning it finished at 1.30am. Although I was tired, I could feel the benefit as the headache I had started to go after the first unit.
My consultant made it clear from the start that it was almost certain I would need a transfusion, and probably more than one, but the nurses made it as pleasant as possible for me, so I'm not worried if I need another. Plus I did get a McDonald's out of it at 9pm- bonus!
The only thing that annoys me is that I can't thank the people who donated the blood that I had transfused. They don't know how much of an impact they had on me. I imagine it's the same for someone who had a transplant, although that is much more extreme. It really made me feel less lethargic and more like myself, which is something I have been missing so much, and something that I had forgotten what it felt like. What I don't think people know is how much blood is given to people who haven't lost a lot of blood, I certainly didn't, so it was definitely a learning curve for me.
Giving blood can have a massive impact on so many people and their families, so if you can give blood, please do consider it.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Accepting things will be different... for now.

The last few days have not been good at all, but being honest that that is what they are and accepting that it won't be forever helps me to get through them.
I've been so tired - now usually I like sleep but having 15-16 hours a night and still feeling like you could do with a nap about 4pm is actually very annoying. I expected to feel a bit more like myself but I feel like an elderly version of what I was before I started my treatment. But I've accepted that that is ok.
I'm not expected to carry on as if nothing has changed, and my family and friends have certainly helped so that always have someone to talk to or someone I can ask to get me anything I need.
I describe days like these as 'Betty' days, days where I feel older and weak. I spend days like these doing a great deal of nothing at all. I don't get dressed, I stay in pyjamas and the only goal I have for the day is to get out of bed and come downstairs. Staying in bed all day doesn't help, and I have only spent one full day in bed when I was really struggling to walk.
It's only temporary, and as I'm now on my second cycle of chemotherapy and not back at the hospital until Tuesday, I'm hoping I will feel better by the end of this week - fingers crossed:)

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


It's exam season, and I thought I would share what effect having cancer has had on my education and exams. I'm in Year 12 in the UK, meaning that I would usually being sitting my AS exams, but under recommendation of my school I'm not, and the reason why, I think, is unfair.
With exams boards you can apply for something called "mitigating circumstances" - a reason why you fail to perform to expected standards in the exams. This can cover anything from a recent death of a friend or relative to serious illness. I could have applied for this, and I would have received an additional 4% that would have been added to my score from each exam. That is not much at all, and would be unlikely to have pushed me into the next grade, so is ultimately pointless. What really annoys me though is that if you have a broken leg, you would receive 3%. Yes, that broken leg would be a bit annoying, and perhaps a bit of a distraction, but the fact that going from a broken leg to cancer is only worth 1% is a bit offensive to be honest! I'd like to argue that being diagnosed with cancer has much more of an emotional and physical impact on a young person than a broken leg, which is often back to normal in 2 or 3 months.
I'd completed around 3/4 of the work on the syllabus and had also completed Chemistry and English coursework to on or near my target grade for both subjects, and I take Maths and Government and Politics of which I had completed several assessments to the standard of my target grade. What I don't understand is why the exam boards couldn't have just given me my target grade for each subject and allowed me to have continued as normal - there is work I have completed to that standard. It shows a lack of trust in schools, as they would suspect the work hadn't of been completed on my own etc. All they have done is kicked me when I'm down.
What angers me further is that there will be others in my situation. In some ways I am lucky in the sense that I already have my GCSEs, so I can choose to leave at any time if I decide to - whereas those taking GCSEs have no choice, and may be held back a year through no fault of their own.
I now face taking my AS and A2 exams all at the same time in June 2016 - which I am aware is no mean feat. I'm going to drop English Literature to make it easier for myself so I stand a chance of getting the grades I want. I'd like to do Politics and Economics at University, so just taking the 3 subjects I need and hopefully getting the grades I want in those will (again) hopefully be enough. My treatment may run into the next academic year, but fingers crossed I will be able to carry on in September where I left off. My school have been fantastic which has been a great help - they are willing to accommodate me whatever happens and whatever I decide to do in September.
I understand that the rules are in place so that people don't abuse the system, because there will always be some who try. However, it would not be hard for them to ring the hospital where I am getting treated to confirm the situation. Surely there must be a better way, so that young people like me aren't punished further by 'Having cancer' which is ultimately outside of their control.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Wig day! - 7/5/15

I'm feeling very positive after visiting a salon in Nottingham and ordering a wig! For me the biggest problem was knowing that I would lose my hair over time, but the wig I have picked is very comfortable and is similar to how my hair was before. When I was diagnosed I decided to get my hair cut short, as for me it meant I had more control over what was happening, although in reality it wouldn't change.
My hair was very long, as I had been growing it out for the summer, but I decided that it would be much less scary to have short hairs fall out, as supposed to hair falling out at its previous length.
It was a bit of a shock with the difference, but after a couple of weeks I've got used to it. Kim, a family friend, came and cut my hair at home, which made me feel much more relaxed, and crucially meant that no one in a salon would ask why I was having my hair cut, because it was the last thing I wanted to talk about with somebody I don't know. When I'm feeling ill, it's much easier to maintain as well on a practical level. I was torn at one point between leaving it as long as I could for as long as I could, but I would definitely recommend anyone in the same situation to do the same.
For the wig, I decided to try and replicate the hair I used to have. I had thought about getting a really different wig in a blue or a purple perhaps, but I decided that when I walked down the street that I wanted people to look at me and not think I was wearing a wig.
So this is the style I went for! It's not as long as I had hoped for, but the wig was warm to try on for just a few minutes, so a long wig in the summer probably isn't the best idea. The colour won't be the same as in the picture, a shade or two darker probably, to try and match my natural colour. The wig is also real hair, meaning I will be able to style it using heat and even dye if I chose to at any point, so it would feel like normal. I will hopefully have the wig later on next week, which is good timing as my hair is slowly starting to fall out, but should easily last until then. I would recommend to get a referral to a salon as soon as possible if you know you will lose your hair, as nurses at the hospital have informed me that some people's hair lasts days, and others can last months! It's definitely better to be prepared.
CLIC Sargent and the Little Princess Trust have both been very helpful in getting me referrals and information about wigs and hair services, and have really helped to make a difficult situation less stressful.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Journey so Far

I found out I had cancer the day after my 17th birthday on the 7th of April 2015. I had been feeling unwell for a few weeks before this, but this was obviously still a considerable shock which I would say only now has begun to sink in. I have stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma which is a type of blood cancer mainly affecting young and elderly people. It is slow to progress and early stage symptoms are difficult to detect, meaning it is rarely found at stage 1. Before I was diagnosed, I noticed a small lump near by collar bone that looked like a swollen gland, and was believed to be by my GP to be an infection because of my high temperature. I was put on antibiotics which obviously did nothing before being referred to the hospital for a biopsy which confirmed the cancer. Everything was put into perspective from that moment on. The little things paled into insignificance and being around my family and friends was, and still is, the thing I wanted to do the most. I'm on my first round of chemotherapy, and I've had good days and bad even though I am only 9 days in. I thought it would be good for me to make a blog, not only so that when I'm having a bad day I can look back and see the good so I can continue to make progress, but to hopefully tell other people my age an honest account of what it's like to be a teenager with cancer. Word of advice, don't google it! (I haven't but it was the first thing my specialist said and I can understand why he said it.) From what limited experience I have of 'having cancer' I already feel like it carries the same sort of social stigma as mental health problems. Although very different circumstances requiring very different action, they both have the same result. People don't know what to say. Sometimes it gets too much and I don't know what to say.  So I thought I would type it instead.