It started with an ache
I was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called periosteal osteosarcoma in 2010. I was only 14 years old.
It started with an ache and I had a very small lump on my left leg, just under my knee. But, being a dancer, I thought nothing of it, and doctors said the aches were growing pains.
The lump grew fast and was the size of a tennis ball in no time. My GP sent me for an urgent X-ray and then I was quickly referred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. It all happened so fast I didn’t know what was going on. But in my gut I knew what it was.
A biopsy – and the diagnosis…
I had a biopsy and then we had to wait and wait for the results.
Results day arrived. I was nervous when we walked into the room. Straightaway, when I saw more than one doctor and the looks on their faces, my gut was screaming at me.
The doctor looked at me and said: “I’m sorry, but it is cancer”. I will never forget those words but I was thinking ‘no he has it wrong, I’m 14, I can’t have cancer’. He said they would need to do surgery and then discuss other treatment, which may not be needed since the cancer had been caught early.
I went home and was in shock. I just hadn’t expected it. The next day I thought ‘why me? what did I do wrong?’ The hardest part was still to come; I had to tell my friends and family. But how? Once I had told them of course they were upset and worried, but were so supportive.
The big day arrived and I had to go in for surgery. I remember going there thinking ‘I may leave here with just one leg’. And that, I couldn’t accept.
It took five hours, but the doctors were able to save my leg and successfully remove all of the tumour.
They said that I didn’t have to have any other treatment, but I did have a long road to recovery ahead of me as the nerves in my leg had been damaged. They had also done a bone graft taking part of my growth plate and a lot of muscle.
I wanted to dance in my show
I wanted to dance in my show in two years but the doctors said that I wouldn’t be ready in time. I was determined to prove them wrong so worked hard every day.
Two years later I was in the show dancing, cartwheeling and doing the splits and handstands! The doctors were amazed and said that I should be using crutches!
I wasn’t going to let cancer beat me, I was going to beat cancer. Yes, I still fear that it will come back one day but I am closely monitored at the hospital, and doing well.
I have met and lost people along the way, but I now fight for myself and them. I want to help them by supporting charity work, so that we can beat cancer for good.
I am now 18 years old and have been clear for almost five years. I have finished a dance BTEC at college and am at university studying Dance Education.
Update on Bethany in 2015
I was struck down by illness again and had to leave university in March 2015. I had developed a neurological disorder.
I have managed to use the time I have been out of dance to pick myself up, not give up and to follow my dreams. Alongside a lot of physiotherapy I am now in the process of setting up my own dance company.
If it wasn’t for my doctors at the RNOH in Stanmore, and current research, I wouldn’t be here today and wouldn’t be able to do all of this. Even though I had cancer and went through some tough times with my fight back, the experience has in a way helped me.
It has made me look at life in a new light, to appreciate what I have and take each day as it comes. I know too well that anything can happen around the next corner.
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