Abigail is now 19 years old – she was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was two – and she tells us her story:
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.
What I gained from the whole experience
This experience has given me a complete new outlook on life and has made me a fighter. The experience allowed me to meet many wonderful people. There are two cancer survivors (Louis and Caitlin) that I still keep in touch with today. We endured/shared the experiences together. I also got the opportunity to visit Lapland where I was lucky to see the northern lights. I also had the chance to become a zoo keeper for the day at London Zoo. This experience has given me a complete new outlook on life and has made me a fighter.
My illness also means I developed an amazingly strong and close relationship with my mum, who I must say is my inspiration in life!
Not everyone is as lucky as me
Sadly, some people aren’t as lucky and lose the battle against cancer – it is the worst disease imaginable. To help others I would really appreciate it if you could donate to cancer research as it truly is a great cause, and one day we will win this war against cancer. I hope my story has given you a little insight into what it is like to be a cancer survivor. Hopefully you have been inspired to really take life by its reins! I am now studying a degree to become a professional dancer, and without the love and support that I got from my family and doctors, I wouldn’t be here to live out my dreams today. (October 2016)Acute lymphoblastic leukaemiaTreatmentsSide effects of treatments
How you can help
If you’ve been touched by Abigail’s journey, help us invest in the high quality research that really matters which would otherwise go unfunded. This helps to support children with cancer so they can be with their families for longer. Donate NowFundraise Here
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