I needed to be part of a cancer community, to discuss my concerns with other people affected by cancer and share ideas on recovery.
I’m a Physical Education teacher by day and adrenaline junkie by night, and my passions for teaching and sports have taken me all over the world.
I’ve always been full of energy, with a great appetite. So when I started to feel tired all the time, together with a loss of appetite, I knew something wasn’t right. I went to my GP a number of times, but because of my age and healthy lifestyle my symptoms were always put down to minor ailments.
Then other symptoms started to appear. I was becoming very breathless and struggling to do day-to-day tasks. My heart rate was sky high even when I was lying down. I was having fevers and almost flu-like symptoms, coupled with severe night sweats. There was a constant tightness and pain in my chest which was getting worse. A lump in my neck appeared.
Enough was enough. After being unable to walk from the car to house, I went to A & E and was diagnosed with pneumonia and a collapsed lung. The doctors feared there was something more sinister going on, and a further PET scan confirmed their fears. To my complete shock, the results identified cancerous tumours in my neck, stomach, pelvis, lung, aorta and spleen.
On the 20 April 2016, aged 34, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 3. Due to the aggressive nature of my blood cancer, the doctors wanted me to start treatment immediately, so five days later I started six months of RCHOP chemotherapy.
It was all really difficult to digest. I just wanted some answers to all the questions running around in my head. The doctors were providing a lot of information and it was almost too much to take in all at once.
My nurse always seemed so busy and I almost felt like I was bothering her if I called her. I wanted to do everything I could to help myself, so I asked if I could access any help through the hospital regarding nutrition and exercise. I was advised that I would not be able to see the nutritionist at the hospital because I was not ill enough.
My chemo plan was very structured and effective, which I am very grateful for to this day. During chemo, I received a lot of support from the volunteer Macmillan helper who talked to me during each session. The only external support I accessed through the hospital was free cancer counselling from a charity called We Hear You (WHY).
I also had phenomenal support from my family and friends, but I still felt very isolated and lonely. I really needed to be part of a cancer community, to discuss my concerns with other people affected by cancer and share ideas on recovery. I found my biggest challenge was meeting like-minded people my own age who had been affected by cancer. I wanted to talk to someone about nutrition and exercise while going through treatment.
That’s why I decided to create my own support service for people in Bath who are dealing with cancer. We Get It provides information on nutrition, movement, emotional support and local events, and connects people to resources in their community that can help. We want to make sure that no one feels alone during or after their treatment, so if you need support, please do come to a workshop, check out our list of local resources or get in touch to meet others who know how you feel.
Today I’m in remission, I’m back teaching part-time, my hair has grown back and I’m feeling great. What’s your story?