My Journey with Cancer | Consult

My Journey with Cancer

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Read time - 59 min

2020 has been a strange one, to say the least.

I’ve written this article to provide insight into my battle with cancer and have highlighted the key moments in my journey to the best of my memory.

I believe I first started to experience symptoms in October 2019. I woke up one morning with an itchy rash on the inside of the wrist, little did I know this would start to be a very common occurrence. This happened most mornings, at points throughout the working day and at night. The rashes I experienced were on the inside of my wrists, hands and chest. They continued to get worse and over time started to look like dots of blood coming to the surface of the skin opposed to the usual rash you might experience. This happened for months and I was trying so many methods to prevent the rashes – washing my bedding constantly, trying non-bio washes, used different types of creams recommended by a pharmacist and a doctor prescribed me with strong antihistamines… none of these things worked.

December 2019, one week before travelling back home for Christmas, I went shopping after work. Whilst standing in a queue, something didn’t feel right in my neck. Upon investigation I felt a tiny lump which I automatically presumed was a muscle knot. I had a sports massage the day prior so was confident it was just a reaction to the massage.

I was stood in the kitchen with my mum and brother and I randomly started to cough, and I couldn’t stop.

A few weeks passed, I was coming to the end of my stay back home and was getting ready to head back to Sheffield. I was stood in the kitchen with my mum and brother and I randomly started to cough, and I couldn’t stop. My brother had a cough at the time, so I assumed I caught it from him as I had been spending most of my time with him over the Christmas period.

February came around and I was really starting to struggle. I was tired 24/7 but I put this down to work. Working in a busy recruitment setting can be very fatiguing (although I’d rather be busy than twiddling my thumbs!). I had my cough all the way through January and it was continuously getting worse, god knows how I spoke on the phone during this time. I saw a doctor regarding the cough and he told me that I had inflamed my airways so that’s why I’m coughing. The solution? I was told to simply stop coughing.

It was around this time that a colleague pointed out to me that I had a rash on the side of my neck, I went to the toilet to inspect. As I turned my neck, I noticed I could see a visible size difference in both sides of my neck, my lump had gotten bigger. At this point, I didn’t overreact and after googling my symptoms, concluded that my lump was a swollen lymph node. Lymph nodes are scattered across the body, we have them in our necks, armpits, chest, essentially everywhere. They swell due to various reasons with the main being due to mild illness. When you have a cold, your lymph nodes can swell for a few days/weeks whilst your body battles the cold. In some very, very rare cases it can be a reaction to a cancer known as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This type of cancer is a very aggressive type of cancer due to its fast pace of spreading in a short amount of time. The good thing is, it’s the most treatable kind with a high success rate after completing a full course of chemotherapy.

Surely not, it’ll just be an infection, I can’t have cancer!

So, the lump on my neck… I continued with my life and my tiredness continued. It was only in March that I finally decided to act on my lump. Friday night gym session – I remember exactly where I was sat and the song that was playing. I felt my neck and the paranoia started to settle in. What if its cancer? Surely not, it’ll just be an infection, I can’t have cancer, I thought to myself. You hear the horrible stories of people going through hell, getting diagnosed with a life changing illness but you never ever expect it to happen to yourself. I left the gym and walked to the NHS walk in clinic.

This was during the early stages of the COVID pandemic, so the clinic was solely occupied by a single family. A mother and her 2 children were running around screaming, making the wait even more stressful. I was told there were no consultants available, only nurses. I explained the issue and showed the receptionist my neck. After waiting, to my surprise I was actually seen by a consultant, my guesses are that the receptionist must had thought this was a serious issue. The consultant assessed the lump and advised me to book an appointment with my GP, they can track the lump to see if it gets bigger, smaller or maintains size. He tried to reassure me it wasn’t a major issue by showing his own lumps on this wrists, neck etc.

I booked a consultation with my GP for 2 weeks’ time, anxious about the road ahead. It was booked for Friday 20th March but unfortunately it was cancelled due to COVID. This was around the time that health services such as GPs and Dentists were having to shut due to positive COVID cases. This happened on the Monday so considering this, I went straight to the hospital. Since my visit to the walk-in clinic, the lump once again had grown, and I was starting to expect it might be Hodgkin’s. Google can be a very dangerous tool at times, you search your symptoms and the results come back with the worst possible case scenarios.

I was starting to realistically believe the lump was cancerous, a thought that I didn’t want to accept so buried it deep in back of my mind. At the hospital, the GP felt my neck and told me these exact words “I don’t think it’s Hodgkin’s, you can immediately feel if its Hodgkin’s in most people. However, I will be putting you in for a non-urgent ultrasound scan.” I left the hospital happy that this scan was arranged.

Friday came, the day of the cancelled appointment and a triage nurse called to ask why I had the appointment booked in the first place. I told her, “Don’t worry, I’ve been to hospital, I have a lump in my neck that I think may be cancerous but it’s getting sorted and I’m booked in for a scan”. I was very forward in this conversation, I’m unsure why but I just let it all out.

At the time, I was under the assumption that I had no other lumps in my body.

Monday 23rd March, my birthday. I had the day booked off however when I woke up, I had no idea the way my day was going to turn.

My GP called me following on from the call with the Triage nurse. She must had read the call notes first thing Monday morning and she asked me if we could do a video call to look at my lump. Swift transition to video and after inspection she asked me to come in for blood tests immediately. I only live 5 minutes away, so I got ready and went in for a blood test. Results came back the same day and she called: “bloods are all good, everything is working well. There’s just one thing that has popped up. Inflammatory markers have been found in the blood; I’ve put you in for an urgent ultrasound scan”. These inflammatory markers are usually an indicator of some sort of infection in the body but again in extremely rare cases, it can be an indicator of certain cancers.

What I took from this was, GP’s are all very highly qualified, but the level of subjectivity will always remain. One GP thought I needed a non-urgent scan whilst another requested blood tests and an urgent scan. Thank god my GP called me that Monday as I later learned during the COVID pandemic my non-urgent scan request could had taken 3 – 5 months and it also could have been declined! My situation right now could be completely different.

Anxiously I waited for my scan, my GP called me with the time and date. It was an ultrasound, so what it included of was the consultant applying ultrasound gel to my neck and using the probe to investigate the area. The results confirmed my suspicions that the swollen lump was a lymph node and a biopsy followed. A biopsy consists of taking a sample of tissue from the body for it to be studied in a lab. When I arrived on the day, I was required to get fitted into a hospital gown. I took a photo of myself in the gown and on the photo, you can visibly see a huge lump on the left side of my neck. Looking back at these photos is mental.

Photo of neck -March
cancerous lump on neck
Neck lump before biopsy -April
hodgkins lymphoma neck lump before biopsy

The consultant numbed my neck with a local anaesthetic in order to perform the biopsy. This was the moment that made me accept that I had a form of cancer. I recall reading online on the symptoms and signs of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that a common sign was a swollen lymph node under the collarbone. At the time, I was under the assumption that I had no other lumps in my body. The consultant was speaking to his assistant prior to starting the biopsy. He mentioned a second swollen lymph node under my collarbone. My brain instantly remembered what I read about this being a sign of cancer and my mood dramatically changed. I entered the room a vibrant happy guy, speaking and laughing with both the consultant and his assistant but after hearing that, the last time I spoke was when I left the room. The biopsy was hard for the consultant, he was almost punching my head trying to make incisions into the lymph node because the lump was so hard (another sign that its cancerous – if a lump is movable and soft its less likely to be cancerous, unfortunately mine was the complete opposite of this).

I had to wait around 2 weeks for the results and in this time, I started to experience my final symptom of the cancer – night sweats. Sometimes, we as humans wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow might be damp. You’ve been sweating for whatever reason however the night sweats I was experiencing… I was waking up in the morning and my bed was absolutely soaking, there would be body sweat outlines from where I was laying, I felt so bad for my partner.

Lump prior to results-April
hodgkins lymphoma neck lump before results
Lump prior to results-April
hodgkins lymphoma neck lump before results

The Diagnosis

The big day came - results day: Thursday 30th April, 11:00am. I walked in, I remember exactly what I was wearing, where I was sat and the layout of the room. The consultant peeped his head around the corner and shouted my name. I followed him into his office, alongside him sat two nurses who gave me a smile, that kind of sympathy smile you get when you’re about to receive some bad news. I already knew that I had cancer but to be told professionally was a completely different ball game. He asked how I was, I said good thanks even though I had never been so scared in my life. I didn’t even ask how he was; I didn’t care at that moment in time.

“So Jak, bad news I’m afraid, the biopsy results came back and its Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We think it’s classic”.

I had maintained eye contact with the consultant until the word Hodgkin’s. My head instantly fell, and I was staring at my feet. I couldn’t look up as I pinched the skin on my right wrist begging this was a dream, the worst of nightmare of my life. As someone who is so into fitness, an ex-personal trainer who trains 5 times a week, plays football, walks to work and eats so cleanly it was so hard to take. Someone who almost never drinks alcohol, never touched drugs and never ever smoked tobacco. I just couldn’t accept it, I was so, so bitter. One of the nurses took me into another room, I’m surprised I didn’t topple over as I walked. Head still didn’t look up; if you put that nurse in front of me now, I wouldn’t recognise her face. She tried to console me but, in all honesty, I just wanted to be by myself and I told her I wanted to leave the hospital. She explained what will happen following on from the cancer diagnosis.

I left the hospital and text my partner these exact words: “I’ve been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer. Walking home now, will have a call with someone within the next week to arrange further scans.” She told me prior to the appointment that she couldn’t bare the call if it was bad news, she just wanted it via text straight away. I was on my way home feeling so bitter and sorry for myself. I was judging everybody I saw, thinking why me and not them? Was a very toxic selfish mindset. I got home and it was time to reveal this news to my family, closest friends and work colleagues. The only people who knew at the time of my hospital appointments was my partner and some of my closest friends. I hadn’t told my family about anything as I didn’t want to put them through the stress of ultrasounds and biopsies in hope at worst it would just be an infection and I wouldn’t need to tell them anything.

I called my mum and she instantly sensed bad news, worst call of my life to date. I rarely ever cry; I hold my emotions back very well, but she set me off. She had been halfway through her food shop at the time and still to this day hasn’t gone back into that specific supermarket.
Next up, my dad; again, dreadful call. I think he thought I was joking and as the realisation slowly crept in, his tears muffled his words.
One of my closest friends called me for a random catchup. He was unaware of my ongoing hospital appointments, he was devastated. In a morbid way, it was nice to see how much people outside of your family care for you. That helped me a lot during this time.
Consult were brilliant with me. I was fearful of redundancy, sick pay etc resulting in losing my flat and potentially having to move back home. On the day I was diagnosed, HR called me and reassured me of my position for as long as I’m ill, no targets until I’m physically and mentally better again, full pay and when work becomes too much, just stop.

Getting diagnosed with cancer was somewhat ironic considering I had shaved my hair short just 11 days before hand.

Its ice cold and when its injected, it felt like someone was moving ice up my arm.

Following on from the diagnosis, the next 2 weeks moved so fast. I was put in for a PET/CT scan. This scan took around 3 hours all in all. I wasn’t allowed to eat for 6 hours before the scan, not allowed to exercise 24 hours beforehand and was told to drink a lot of water. They injected radioactive glucose into my body intravenously and I had to lay in a dark room for an hour. The glucose is made on the day as it has a short expiry date and needs to be used on the same day. Its ice cold and when its injected, it felt like someone was moving ice up my arm. The glucose helps the scan in highlighting areas in the body that are consuming sugars. Some of your organs will be highlighted in black as they are always actively using sugars, anything else highlighted is a concern. I was put in the scanner tube for 30 minutes and it scanned my body in segments from top to bottom. I had to stay completely still, so it was quite uncomfortable.

I had to wait 3 working days minimum for the results to come back and I had a consultation booked with the consultant who was to take the lead with all my care, Dr Nicholas Morley. A highly accredited consultant, he literally wrote the NHS book on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma alongside another consultant and a professor. I couldn’t have been in better hands. I met him and we went through my test results. Unfortunately, the cancer was a lot more advanced than what we both initially had thought and hoped – Stage 4. I didn’t see the images of my scan at this stage, I requested to see them at the end of the treatment as I did not want to see the state of my body at that moment in time. Stage 4 means its spread to the liver, bones or lungs in my case this was my hip bone.

He went through everything I needed to know and answered all my questions professionally and with good detail. He really put me at ease with the whole situation and I was booked in for my first of 12 chemotherapy sessions on Thursday 14th May. These sessions would be on Thursdays every 2 weeks. During lockdown this was more difficult, going almost 2 months without seeing my partner during not only a pandemic but a cancer diagnosis wasn’t exactly the plan for 2020.

There was no one below the age of 60 in my room, this hit me hard.

The day came for the first chemotherapy session and HR texted me saying they were going to be bringing me some office supplies. It was quite obviously some sort of present, but my mind was racing so I didn’t process this! Consult were kind enough to surprise me with a range of different presents with my favourite being a Manchester United 96’ shirt. My partner dropped me off and up I went to my first session. Unfortunately, due to COVID the Teenage Cancer Ward (ages 14 – 25) was shut so I had to go into the main ward and you wasn’t allowed to bring people to the ward so I had to do undergo the treatment by myself. There was no one below the age of 60 in my room, this hit me hard; first session walking in and being the youngest by far in a busy Sheffield hospital. The staff in the chemotherapy ward are referred to as “sisters”. Before the session, they take your blood pressure, temperature and check your breathing. Once that’s all done, the real fun begins (spoiler: I lied, it’s not fun). They fit a cannula into one of your wrists, straight into the main vein that runs up your arm. They then strap in the cannula with a specialised tape that goes around the canula helping it stay secure in the vein and close to the skin. Once everything is in place, they attach a bag of anti-sickness drug to the tube which is attached to the cannula. It’s a very strange feeling, having liquid pumped into your vein. You never become accustomed to it; you just get better at handling it. You can be attached to this for a while before the chemotherapy begins as everyday (in my case) there was two deliveries with one in morning and afternoon. The earlier the pharmacy made the chemotherapy, the faster your treatment can begin. If it came in the afternoon, it would be a late finish.

My chemotherapy drugs were known as ABVD. Four different drugs which are the following:

  • A – doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
  • B – bleomycin
  • V – vinblastine
  • D – dacarbazine (DTIC)

They start with the fastest drugs to deliver first so A, B and V all took up to around 10 minutes to deliver each with D taking around 1 hour. I fondly remember Doxorubicin (A) being my least favourite as it made me feel extremely nauseous. It’s a red liquid which gave me the taste of Vimto in my mouth. First time I experienced dacarbazine (D) was quite painful and was extremely uncomfortable. Once it had finished, one of the sisters put my machine on a “flush” to basically clear out the tube and saline (water and a sodium mixture) was put into the tube. Once that’s over, they start to remove all the tape and the cannula which is once again dreadful. It’s like having a wax as it rips out all your hairs and removing the canula stings and bruises. My partner picked me up and I was full of life, happy that I was on the road to recovery and it didn’t even feel like I had chemotherapy.

Next day, I woke up; my face and chest looked sunburn. This is referred to as flushing and I experienced this side effect after each treatment and lasted 2/3 days. On that Friday, it took me a full day to write a single job advert, I’m not joking. I couldn’t concentrate, my brain wasn’t functioning, I felt like I had a hangover but worse. The next few days wasn’t any better with Saturday giving me stomach cramps for the entire day and Sunday being nauseous and struggling to eat. I was first sick on Tuesday whilst attempting to eat my dinner in the afternoon, so I was prescribed with a stronger anti sickness known as Aprepitant. The following days I started to feel better and by the weekend I was all good. All my symptoms stopped, my cough had gone, and my rashes had stopped. The unfortunate thing with chemotherapy is the more sessions you have the worse the side effects become.

First chemotherapy session
cannula fitted for chemotherapy
First scan before Chemo - May
scan showing signs of hodgkins lymphoma

After 4 sessions (2 cycles), I had another PET/CT scan to evaluate and assess the impact of the chemotherapy so far. The third session of chemotherapy was probably the worst I had, due to what I witnessed. A man sat next to me; his vein had hardened up. Overtime, chemotherapy drugs can harden your veins making it more difficult to access the vein with the canula. The sister had attempted to get into his vein 6 times with none being successful. This made me hot, very hot. I wore a vest and shorts on treatment day because it was warm in the ward anyway and I didn’t want to overheat with a cannula and drugs going into my arm. Imagine a static tv screen, that’s exactly what I was seeing after witnessing that ordeal. I’m already quite pale so I have no idea how white I must had looked at that moment in time.

The 4 sessions concluded, and the chemotherapy side effects were getting worse every time. My PET/CT scan was scheduled 11 days after the fourth session and it’s the same process as the first scan. I had the scan and received the results the following week over the phone. Having virtually no immune system limited me from getting the results delivered F2F. Nick rang me and delivered the news. Utterly fantastic news, there were no signs of lymphoma on the scan which was miraculous considering I was at Stage 4 when the whole thing began! When I started the treatment, I was rated at 5/5 on the lymphoma hotness scale and went down to 2/5 after 4 sessions. Nick told me this is the way they measure patients during the treatment phase. The target was 3/5 at that stage so knowing I was currently surpassing expectations was very motivational for the next few sessions. That was the final scan until all the chemotherapy had ended. The scans transmit radiation, so you are limited to the amount of times you use one of these machines. Due to the positive news, I was also able to take out one of the four chemotherapy drugs. Bleomycin (B) over long periods of time can be toxic to the lungs, so thankfully I was able to drop it.

For the rest of the chemotherapy, each session got harder and the side effects continuously became worse. My hair started to fall out, so I completely shaved it off. Luckily, as it grew back, it stopped falling out and my facial hair remained as well. I was just extremely tired and unmotivated all the time. I work out quite a lot and I was having my chemotherapy on Thursdays and not knowing when I would feel well enough again to workout in my flat was so frustrating. As a ex Personal Trainer, I know some PT’s very well and I was fortunate enough to be given gym equipment to use in my flat. Dumbbells, plates and barbells really helped me stay in shape and keep as much muscle mass as possible during this time. During the chemotherapy, the anti-sickness was a type of steroid which did the opposite of what a usual steroid would do - essentially turning muscle in fat.

I had major salt cravings and went through countless amounts of crisps.

For the first couple of days following on from a chemotherapy session, I had major salt cravings and went through countless amounts of crisps alongside sweets and other junk food, it was a bad time to look back upon.

Every Monday on the week of chemotherapy, the bloods nurse would come to my flat to take my bloods to ensure I was healthy enough to receive another round of treatment. The blood tests measured neutrophils which are a type of white blood cell. During my cycles, there were no setbacks, nothing was cancelled, and I was careful enough to not get any illnesses whatsoever. As you have no immune system, the littlest thing could have sent me to hospital or required antibiotics.

Regarding family, my Mum, Dad and brother would come up every few weeks to see me but didn’t come into my flat. We’d distance ourselves outside so not being able to hug my family during those times was very difficult for everyone. Fortunately, our meet ups were mostly throughout summer and the weather always seemed to favour us.

I rang the bell, one of the most memorable moments of my life.

After the 12 rounds of treatment, I rang the bell. Something I had thought about since day 1 of getting diagnosed. When the canula was removed after the final session, I felt as if I was getting released back into the world. I sat there knowing I was free, and it was bloody glorious. The feeling of accomplishment almost made my body forget about the fatigue and pain I was in. All the sisters gathered around and clapped as I rang the bell, one of the most memorable moments of my life – I wish I had a video of this.

My partner picked me up, and surprised me with presents, balloons the whole shebang. It was so nice to see her this happy. Now, a 5 week wait for the final PET/CT scan. The scan was over a month away as they needed to see how your body reacts without having chemotherapy for a prolonged amount of time. It was the longest I had gone without treatment for 6 months. Waking up Friday mornings without the chemotherapy drug in my body was such a good feeling.

I only had one other side effect from the chemotherapy sessions, one of my veins has hardened up. A common side effect of chemotherapy, its most likely not permanent and will soften over time. Its quite strange in all honesty – I was recommended to switch sides for every treatment. I started on my left wrist and moved to the right for the second and vice versa. After the third session, my left side couldn’t take it anymore. The vein had already started to harden up and the vein on my bicep turned purple. For the 9 remaining sessions, I had the canula inserted on my right wrist every single time. Thankfully, my right wrist managed to stick it out and my vein did not harden. If it had hardened, I may have needed to have a PICC line put in. I made it clear before treatment even started that I would not be having a PICC line, so thankfully it didn’t come to that compromise.

The 5-week wait had me feeling slightly better by the day. I was extremely confident of getting the all clear, so I wanted to get a fade before meeting my consultant for the results. Unfortunately, the November lockdown happened and that was so longer a possibility. I already knew I was a strong-minded resilient person, but 8 months locked away in a small studio flat by myself with limited visitors, no social events or anything could send the strongest person insane, but I’ll happily gloat that I got through it, mentally unscathed.

The Results

Now, on to the biggest and best part of the journey – the results. The night before, I could not sleep. I went to bed late on purpose, I was tired but just couldn’t sleep. The 2 nights prior I had dreams about me getting my results with one of them taking place in the Pure Gym staff room, bizarre. My mind was all over the shop, what if its bad news? What will I do about Christmas if I need more treatment? Will I be able to see my family? All these thoughts kept me awake and that 3:00pm session felt like it was getting further away as the time ticked on by.

I slurred my words due to the anxiety purging throughout my body.

Finally slept, got a couple hours, it was the biggest day of my life – Tuesday 24th November. My partner drove me to the hospital, but she couldn’t come in due to COVID regulations. I was able to have my bloods nurse, Shona present though. Other than my partner, Shona was the only person coming into my flat, so we built a good bond together. She was a great woman to speak to as she has so much experience within this field, so it was nice to have her there alongside Nick. I arrived at 14:50pm and Nick called me in early, the nerves really started to kick in at that point. I was confident of the all clear but going into this room, I was going to be coming out a different man. Shona was already sat in there but as I walked in, I couldn’t tell if they were smiling under the masks or not. I couldn’t engage the mood, this added to the nerves. I sat down, Nick asked how I was and what I’d been doing since the chemotherapy had ended on October 15th. I slurred my words due to the anxiety purging throughout my body. He could see and feel my nerves from a mile away. What he said next, was what I had been waiting for, for 8 long months.

“I can tell you’re nervous and I don’t blame you, so I’ll cut to the chase. I’m gleaming under this mask; your results are impeccable, and you should be so proud and happy with this. No signs of lymphoma, no signs of residual cancer anywhere”. I asked “so, no more chemo? No more treatment? The cancer is gone?” I wanted full clarity before I accepted that it was over.

He confirmed this.

Total Euphoria

Without doubt, the best moment of my entire life. Writing this out, thinking back to last week is making me shake. My head went down to the floor again alike when I was diagnosed with the illness but no sadness this time round, just happiness. The thought of no more cannulas, no more fatigue, no more drugs, no more flushing, no more sickness. Being able to tell my loved ones that it’s all over was filling me with such joy.

Now was the moment I got to see my scan results. The PET/CT scan provides an image of your body and the first scan revealed where the cancer was etc. I had an awful cough for months and the scan explains why… a ton of lumps in my neck, chest and in the hip bone – my body was in a mess. Nick showed me the newest scan taken on the 16th November and all the lumps had completely disappeared in my neck/chest and my hip was completely normal again.

“All clear”. She burst into tears.

I left the room, buzzing – feeling like 10 men I walked through the corridor back to my partner who was waiting anxiously in her car. I went to her door, opened it with the biggest smile on my face and said the simple words “all clear”. She jumped into my arms and finally this nightmare had ended. Seeing her like this was all I wanted and knowing I could deliver this news to so many people was so pleasing. Next up, my parents. I called my mums work and she came to the phone, skipped all the small talk and again, said the two simple words “All clear”. She burst into tears, best day of her life she said and that set my partner off again because my phone was on loudspeaker! Next up, my Dad – tears of joy, so damn good to hear him so happy. You could tell instantly that this weight of cancer had been lifted from their shoulders, a weight that had been there for a long, long time. Friends and work colleagues followed, and I was genuinely so happy to be able to go back to work the next Monday. I’d missed the social interactions, the banter, the feeling of telling someone they’ve been offered a job, everything. Even though I was still working from home (up to around September) it wasn’t the same as being in the office around people you get along with so well.

What now? I will have physical check-ups every 3 months for the first year. The year after, the check-ups will decrease and after 5 years I won’t need anymore.

Now, I’m back at work and looking forward to familiarising myself with everything again, get up to speed with work and never take another day for granted again. Shame about COVID, but once that’s controlled, I’m sure the all clear will feel even better.

In a very strange way, I’m genuinely happy this happened to me at 24 years of age. The experience has given me a new perspective on life that not many people will have. Knowing what I’ve gone through has really shaped me as a person and I can confidently say it has improved me mentally, 100%. I’d say I’m an open book and I love speaking about this experience. Some people might feel awkward asking me questions about my journey but no matter how personal the question is, I don’t mind answering. I’d love to help people who have been diagnosed with a similar cancer to mine and I would like to educate people on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, recognising lumps in the body and helping them with their own battles with cancer.

best day of my life - November
Insights jak story Results day
final scan- completely clear
clear scan showing no signs of cancer
pectorals for vanity reasons
scan image of pectorals

What Helped During my 6 Months of Treatment

  • Exercise: I cannot stress this enough! If you have equipment use it and go for runs when you’re feeling well. I did 5km runs when I felt best and lifted weights in my flat. I remember my consultant telling me that the last thing we want is for you to turn frail and weak when your body is going through turmoil. Treating your body well during this time is very important, workout when you feel well enough.
  • If you’re a male, bank some sperm prior to starting treatment: Chemotherapy can cause fertility issues in the future. A few years after finishing treatment, you can have a sperm test to ensure they are still optimal and healthy. However, in the case they aren’t, you’ll have some healthy sperm stored in the hospital.
  • If you have a food craving, give in: Obviously within reason! I had major salt cravings a few days after my treatments, crisps made me feel so much better.
  • Drink water: Chemotherapy is essentially poison to the body. Its aim is to kill the cancerous cells but in doing so, it will also kill healthy cells. You need to drink a good amount of water every day. It will make your body feel a lot better.
  • Stay positive: I’m quite a cynical person but staying positive is vital during this time otherwise you’ll be fighting a mental battle as well as physical.

Final Takeaway Message

I cannot stress enough to ensure you check for lumps around your body and if something doesn’t feel right, see your GP. If it is cancer, the quicker you act, the better chance you have of defeating it.

Thank you for reading my article.

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