To be told you have cancer at 9 years old is understandably a shock. But at the time I had no idea what impact those difficult years would have on me. But when I look back now, I wouldn’t change a thing, I’m deeply grateful to be able to enjoy what I hope will be a long and fulfilling life. I’m very lucky to be now living with 2003 as a very distance memory, and be perfectly healthy.
When I was in Hospital I found it very difficult to see that I would have a normal life again. The treatment felt never ending and I couldn’t bring myself to really play with toys or enjoy the events that the wards had organised to help children feel happier. My mood would instantly change when I walked in and I would feel immediately sick. I understand now that I had mentally created a link between the hospital and feeling sick and I would feel sick before I had even started any chemotherapy.
Time at home was so valuable and I loved to do anything that would help me forget that I was a cancer patient. People always ask if I remember much of my experience, being so young, and I absolutely do. I remember almost all of the days on the ward and in scanners and operations and I remember some very specific and very dark thoughts about myself and my life.
The one thing that kept me focusing on life outside cancer, was a board my dad had made with all the things I wanted to do when I was better. Mum and dad said I could do anything I wanted. I chose to go to Florida and get my ears pierced. Why I asked simply for my ears pierced, I have no idea! But those images on the board, that included my face on cut out figures from holiday magazines, became my hope. And the excitement and happiness I experienced when I finally got to go was indescribable!
When me and my family went to Give Kids the World Village in Florida I got completely lost in the magic and the fun and forgot about the pain and the sickness of being in hospital. The only word I can use to describe it was magical. I’ve never felt happiness like the transition from hospital to being on holiday. I will always be grateful and I can honestly say that without all of those experiences I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.
It’s now my goal, along with my family, to create something with the same magic here in the UK. This challenge is our opportunity to kickstart our plan! This adventure is going to be tough for me. At the moment I don’t trust myself on a bike around English country lanes; let alone through a jungle! But the challenge excites me and I know this could be the start of something amazing.