The treatment and its effects
17 years ago I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), I was two and half years old. Four weeks later, after my first blast of intense chemotherapy, I went into remission.
I then spent three years going through chemotherapy until I had the final all-clear that the cancer cells had gone. I lost my hair within four weeks of starting treatment and pretty much spent the majority of my childhood in hospital.
Many people say to me ‘I bet you can’t remember it now’, but sadly I do remember a lot of it. I still have to visit hospital once a year for check-ups and will have to continue this for the rest of my life.
I trialled a new type of treatment, so the doctors had no idea what my side-effects would be. Luckily I haven’t had major side-effects, except from bad joint pain in my legs. I had to have a port-o-cath inserted which has left a scar on my right breast and at the bottom of my neck which are still visible today.
Sadly this experience has meant I developed a phobia of needles, so even just a simple blood test is a challenge for me and has seen many doctors get kicked in the face! My hair loss during chemo also scarred me mentally – for many years I wouldn’t get my hair cut. For most of my childhood my hair was past my bottom, and basically I looked like Rapunzel! Most of the photos during my illness are of me with no hair or with very short hair.