Introduction

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** THIS IS A TRUE STORY **

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Introduction 

As you may have guessed this is no ordinary book. In fact this is all about CANCER... Yes, it's that word...Cancer. Scary I must admit but once you've been through it you tend to forget what it means. It doesn't always mean what it says on the packet. Cancer means different things to different people, and each person diagnosed will have a vastly different experience with the illness and their treatment. Some, sadly, don't survive. Some do. Whatever happens, nothing is ever the same again, for the patient or their families.

I suppose to really understand all the nonsense in here and to understand why they have a space in this book, I better give you a little background first.

Everything is pretty much in Chapter One - how I got diagnosed and what symptoms I had, how long it took and all the facts without the emotions. The emotions are the rest of the book. Why? Because they're exactly what this illness is all about.

There was a study done, stating that a person's emotions and positive or negative feelings about the future of their treatment, have nothing to do with the state or result of their recovery. Well, no disrespect to science, I love it really, but it's rubbish. And boy would I like to use stronger language to emphasise that. Truthfully though, that's what it's all about. If you feel good within yourself then you'll feel positive. If you feel positive, you'll feel good. It's as simple as that. If you feel negative then you won't exactly feel great about yourself. If you feel bad within yourself...I think you get where I'm going with this. So here's a brief outline of what went on:

It was one week before my 16th Birthday when I was told I had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. For me it was a relief. I won't give you all the sordid details of throwing up and crying constantly for over five months - I'll keep that for later. Let's just say that I had a rough time of it and it was a relief to know there was actually something wrong with me.

My Doctor had been telling me for months that I was depressed and that I was a normal fifteen-year-old girl unable to cope with my exams and that I was attention seeking. So to find out it was something seriously wrong with me...well I was glad I wasn't going mad.

I started treatment straight away and was in hospital for five days getting treatment and a Hickman Line inserted. It sounds weird I know, but it's really just a soft plastic tube inserted under the skin and attached to a large vein in your heart. It sounds creepy and painful, but I got sedated for the operation twice and only once, when it was an absolute emergency, did I have to go through the actual operation awake.

The truth is, if I'd have known how uncomfortable it would be (a simple heavy tug deep in my chest) I'd still have gone through with it. I had a fear of needles when I went into the hospital and hated the thought of always having to be pricked with needles when they needed bloods taken or to give me medicines. This was the easy way out. Instead, the needles would be inserted into a small nozzle at the end of the lead of the Hickman Line so whether awake, asleep, in pain, afraid of needles or not, it would be easier for both me and the nurses.

Now that it's over I decided that there were so many young people like myself getting treatment that this book was really called for. Not only does it let me vent my feelings to my heart's content but I hope it may help someone, however old or young, who is going through what I went through. There weren't ANY leaflets or booklets in any of the hospitals, even Maggie's Centre, specifically for teens or young adults. There was a lot for the patients, their families etc, but nothing was in simple jargon for teenagers, or anyone not classified by the NHS as an adult.

I will admit, freely, that my sole source of information was the internet. Which is terrifying. Google is not the place to find accurate medical information for something like NHL or cancer; it tells you scary things and basically most searches I made for Stage 4 NHL was 'you die'. That was not inspiring in the least.

Everyone told me that Stage 4 is the worst possible stage to have. It's the final stage before death, basically. So my plan, is to make sure everyone knows that Cancer and Stage 4, together or separately DO NOT spell a death sentence. I survived. Other people can too. All you have to do is hold on, believe you will get through it and never give up. That's all you can do. And trust your doctors. I trusted all of mine; I trusted that they would care for me, look after me, and guide me as to what the best options for my treatment were.

They did all of that and more.

Just know that you're not alone. I hope that, as well as giving a little insight into how it is to be in hospital and recover (bearing in mind that this was before the Teenage Cancer Trust Units), this book lets you know that there are people out there who can help. Feel free to contact me, any time, if you want to talk, need some advice or whatever. I'm always here to listen.

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