Hello! Sorry its been so long since my last post. Exam season was soon upon us and revision completely got in the way of life and blogging. Now however, my exams are done for the year! It’s hard to say how they went. On the day I felt awful about English, but in hindsight I feel better about it. Biology and Psychology I was worried about due to the sheer amount of knowledge: you have to know a lot even though only a small amount actually comes up in the exam. I think they went well though, I don’t think there was anything else I could have written. Its such a relief for that to be over!
Sadly, a long hot summer does not start here. I’m straight into UCAS and crafting my personal statement, as my tutor has highlighted me for early entry due to Physiotherapy being a competitive course. 2794 characters in and I’m beginning to run out of steam… plus the temptation to use the word ‘passionate’ is getting too strong!
Of the four college students I had a meeting with about UCAS priority entry, I am the only one who can attend the Cambridge University summer school that Chichester college was offered 4 places to. This is an amazing opportunity to experience a university lifestyle; we spend a week in the university halls attending seminars by day and socialising by evening. In the past events such as theatre trips, walks around the grounds, music nights and punting on the river Cam have been held, which all sound brilliant to me!
After I finish my first draft of the personal statement, it’s back to a week of intense driving theory (second time lucky eh?!) and A2 transition work, then by the end of June I will be free! July is looking intense but amazing for me, filled with lots of trips to places and finally culminating in my 18th birthday!
From the health point of view, my bloods have been too high recently, so my dosage of chemotherapy tablets has increased. They still need to suppress my immune system somewhat to ensure that they reach every last little Leukaemia cell. In other news, I think my cough has finally shifted. Good riddance! Remember I said if it’s not one thing then it’s another though? I now have a slightly odd rash near my old central line site which could just be heat rash, but looks as if it may be slowly tracking over my shoulders, so this will need some further testing and observation. It’s not itchy or painful and my temperature has been fine, its just a bit odd looking and is very conspicuous where it is so I would like it to be treated if possible.
During the half term I had a great trip to Rome with Make A Wish which I will be writing more about in a separate post. For now I’ll tell you that it was hot, sunny and such a vibrant city!
Just a quick post because I have had a lovely day and evening I want to fill you in on.
Earlier me and Gracie went to a “pick your own” farm where we walked around the orchards in the sunshine and picked some plums and apples. In the farm shop we got a punnet of strawberries then sat and ate them under a large tree, it felt so summery and peaceful! We had a good two weeks catch up to do which was great.
Then this evening I am very proud to say I made it through a whole hour of mum’s Zumba class without stopping. This is quite a step for me as I haven’t done that much exercise since diagnosis! On the other hand, I was nervous since exactly a year ago I went to a similar class and almost passed out.
That evening 12 months ago I had no idea I was ill, but it definitely brought out the symptoms. I am told I went deathly pale, and I know I felt like I was going to throw up any minute- which I knew wasn’t right because I would exercise for 2 hours in the gym every week and not feel even remotely like that.
It was quite a scary and embarrassing event, and it was the first time I didn’t feel in control of my body.
That’s one of the things you lose with cancer through no fault of your own- your body has “malfunctioned” if you like and started producing the wrong kind of cells. The fact that I had no say in the matter and no way to make it better except take round after round of what I knew were going to be unpleasant drugs was quite a daunting prospect.
Tonight I was in a totally different place from last year- I was energised, motivated and finally I know what my body is going through this time around, so I know when to stop and rest. It’s one of many times recently when I haven’t felt held back by my condition. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when going into hospital or arranging appointments frustrates me more than I can explain, but I am choosing to let the positives outweigh the negatives. This is something I have always strived to do throughout the last year, and really has helped me through every single day.
I can’t explain how amazing it feels to be where I am now: almost back to normal, despite starting another year of chemo. I can do so much more than I have previously been allowed to. I am looking forward to starting college in a few weeks time, attending two weddings in the next month where I don’t have to worry as much about who in the crowd is ill and doing more work at the sailing centre at the end of August.
Life has never seemed so full or so positive for me and I can’t wait to fill you in on this new leg of the journey!
The chemo has definitely started to kick in now and I’m feeling slightly worse for wear, but the sunshine and the fact that I am home is something to be thankful for!
On Sunday the weather was gorgeous so I hosted a bbq for the old gang, we sat out in the sun chatting for hours and it was just really lovely!
I’ve noticed that through this experience I have learnt to treasure every moment of freedom and time spent with friends and have also grown to appreciate the little things- just being able to sit in the sun and have a laugh with my girls was so special!
Another thing that has really struck me recently is how precious life is. Before August 2013 I took my health for granted and it never even crossed my mind that this could happen to me, but since going through this I am determined to make my life count and not waste my opportunities. I think we need constant reminders to appreciate everything we have been given and to live life in all it’s fullness.
Meeting people with terminal cancers through the ward is always inspiring to me, but I still find the whole thing so indescribably unfair that I can’t wrap my head around it. How can I get off with no complications whilst someone else has been suffering for years without a positive outcome? Why should I be the lucky one? I’ve found that it makes me long for the day when there is a cure for all cancers.
This is one of the reasons that I really connect with the latest Race For Life advert (if you haven’t seen it you can follow this link… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueU_zGjnJLA ) I love the tone of the narration, it says we’ve had enough of you cancer and we’re coming to get you!
In the past used to naively assume that because cancer is still one of the major causes of death in the UK Cancer Research didn’t actually do much, but how wrong I was! I now know a lot more about what they do and just recently made the link between the charity and clinical trials. This was something I was offered in the beginning of my treatment and it made Cancer Research more relevant to me. Through the viral “no make-up selfie” campaign (in which women take a photo of themselves fresh faced, post it online, text a donation to charity and nominate others to do the same) an astonishing £8m was donated to Cancer Research UK. This money can now go on to fund nine more clinical trials which I think is really great.
Since this charity has been put on my heart I have found an event called Shine Night Walk, a walk around London in the evening on September 27th and am thinking of entering this year to raise money for them. It will require training and planning but I will let you know if I get a group together and am looking for sponsors!
Before I go tonight I have one last story to tell! You might remember that back in February I missed a Taylor Swift concert I had planned to go to, the one that one of my nurses then went to and met Taylor Swift’s mum at? Well, as mama Swift took my name and said for me to write to them I sent off my fan mail at the the end of Feb… and waited. Then waited a little bit more. Finally a package arrived for me today, and I stood staring at it for a while thinking “but who do I know that lives in Nashville?!” then the light-bulb moment hit me and I was grinning and tearing at the cardboard! The parcel contained some really cool merchandise from her Red tour including an autographed photo, t-shirt and some mega cool Taylor Swift guitar picks! Anyway here’s a picture to show you my goodies!