Friday, 23 May 2014


 This day 2 years ago - 23.05.12 I made my way to Birch ward at my local hospital where I was told the dreadful news that I had cancer, not any cancer but a rare type of Leukaemia, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. At this point I did not know much about cancer. Consultants were throwing all this information at myself & my family. My mind was a blur, what is cancer? what is chemotherapy? when can I go home? will i die? I was a normal 19 year old and never had anything wrong with me. I worked two jobs, one being an apprenticeship in business and the other cleaning a uni. Then BOOM I was faced with the news no one wants to hear. My life changed, my life paused and I had to enter the 'cancer world'.

Cancer is such a broad word as there are so many different types, stages & treatments. I didn't know at the time I was diagnosed that I would need a stem cell transplant as my consultants told me it was a last option BUT now here I am 2 years on and 18 months post stem cell transplant. It's a miracle, having a transplant has saved my life and I am so grateful for that. This time last year I was only 6 months post transplant and didn't feel too good, sleeping all day and still suffering with mouth sores and shingles. Now I am in a completely different state, I don't sleep as much and haven't suffered with shingles since last year (touch wood) Even though I am still in the 'recovery stage' I feel so much better than I did this time last year. I am starting to feel normal but wish I felt 100% myself. I wasn't prepared for how having a transplant would effect me physically and emotionally. I still feel fatigued and suffer with severe muscle pain. I didn't think it was normal to still feel like this and I keep comparing myself to other people I know who feel a lot better than me. I envy them in a way as I have forgot what it's like to feel like a normal young adult, to not ache when walking, to not be worried about catching a cough or cold and to not worry about cancer returning. I am looking forward to getting to the '2 year post' mark, as when I hit that stage the chance of relapse halves to 15%. :)  My consultant has reassured me that a full recovery can take up to 5 years and told me to not compare myself to others as we have all had different treatment that effects each individual in different ways. 

I have been reflecting on everything I have done and all the amazing people I have met since being diagnosed and in a way I feel cancer is in some way a blessing as I have met so many inspirational people. I have made friendships that I will cherish forever and I wouldn't have been able to if I wasn't in this 'cancer world'.  Being in the 'cancer world' you are faced with both positive and negative as you meet amazing people & some loose their battle with cancer which is really upsetting. My friend Freya is such an inspirational lady who I met 2 years ago when I was diagnosed, we were both treated on the same ward and had stem cell transplants. After both finishing treatment we used to meet up and talk about everything. Devastatingly she relapsed and lost her battle with cancer earlier this year, she is a true star who I will never forget. 
Being diagnosed with cancer has also led me to my interest in charity work. I have been really involved with the CLIC Sargent charity and I love to help fund raise money for them. So far our total amount raised is £557.26 for the charity. They have supported us a lot since being diagnosed in 2012 and I have recently joined the young persons advisory group, CYPAG.  I have also recently volunteered at local events such as the Plymouth half marathon and the Big bucket collection. 

I think cancer has has changed me a lot as a person as I now think of my life and future differently. If I want to do something I don't really think twice as i believe that life is too short. Before being diagnosed I didn't know about cancer and it isn't until you enter the 'cancer world' you learn so much about different cancers, treatments & effects. That's one of the main reasons I write & share my story with you all. To raise awareness and to help understand living with cancer. By writing this blog I have also realised how much I enjoy writing and find it in some way very therapeutic. It's incredible to know that people from all around the world follow my blog and a great way for myself to reflect on my progress and to see how far I have come. 
I wouldn't have been able to get this far if it wasn't for the positive support from my amazing family & friends. 
Love you all xxx
Always Smiling x

Monday, 19 May 2014

My Life In Photos | April 2014

Another month has passed, more memories have been created & of course a lot of photos have been taken. I haven't done much this month but that doesn't stop me from using my i-phone to take photos on a daily basis. 
April is a busy birthday month. At the beginning of April it was my Nan's birthday, we celebrated by going to a lovely Greek restaurant on the barbican called Meze Bar and Grill. We had never been here before and thought we would try it as they had an online offer for a 3 course meal for £10. I would recommend this place as the the food was delicious. 
As long as the weather is nice and dry I try to get out as much as I can. One of my favourite places to visit is Tavistock Park, it it a 30 min drive from my home. It has a park, a river, a market and some shops. I tend to take my nan or Esme with me and we end up taking a picnic and feeding the ducks. 
I ended up going to the Zoo with a few of the girls, Kate, Rach & Ceej this month. We are lucky to have a few zoo's near to where we live, Dartmoor, Paignton, Newquay & Exmoor. We have never been to Exmoor zoo so thought we would give it a try. It took us a while to get there as I was in charge of the sat nav & we started our journey heading towards the national park and not the zoo, thanks to my shitty sat nav skills. After eventually arriving there I really enjoyed it. It wasn't to hilly which is such a positive as I get tired really easily, I struggle being on my feet for a long time but the zoo was small so this didn't effect me to much. Me and the girls can be childish at times and we love it. 
This month was the Plymouth half marathon and my family and I volunteered for CLIC Sargent to help at the event. This involved in us handing out inflatables to people to help share awareness of the charity and cheering for the runners. It was such an amazing atmosphere and there were 1500 children running 1 mile for CLIC Sargent. There were lots of people running for lots of different amazing charities, it was overwhelming watching them start and finish as they are all doing it for a chosen charity. I would love to run it when I feel much fitter, it is now one of my future goals. 
April is one of the worst months for eating! Easter = lots of chocolate. Even at the age of 21 I still receive chocolate eggs from my family..lindt bunnies are my favourite! I celebrate Easter with all my family members. My mum usually hides little Easter eggs in the garden for Ella & Esme to find, we also go for a long walk and then end the day with a huge roast dinner. I am unsure of my religious belief but we always talk about the real reason why we celebrate Easter and as a family we all have different views. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014


I am now part of a group called CYPAG. This is a young adults advisory group for CLIC Sargent, which is the charity who have supported me since I was diagnosed with cancer. I was asked to join the advisory group where discussions are held about ideas for CLIC Sargent and their work with other people effected by cancer. My first meeting was in Scotland for a weekend at the Malcolm Sargent House with 16 other young people. I was quite nervous before I went as I really didn't know what to expect. I felt most anxious about flying on my own to Scotland as I have never been on a plane on my own and I am such a flapper! I'm not scared of flying in the slightest, it's the getting through security etc that panics me. After all the worrying I had a safe and stress free journey.
I didn't arrive in Scotland until late afternoon on Friday and was pretty tired from all the travelling, so I had a chilled evening and got to know some of the people at the house.

Saturday was a workshop day. I was very excited for this as it was new to me and didn't know what to expect. There was 17 of us young people and we got split into 7 different groups and had to share ideas and give our feedback to CLIC Sargent. This included us having a group input on questions we were given about media. Some of the questions were based on how we felt about filming our own videos about our story, we then had more questions related to this topic. All our feedback we gave will eventually be passed on and used in future plans for CLIC. After sharing our thoughts on filming each group was mixed around so that we all got to know others. Our next task was to create our own elevator pitch. The scenario we were given was 'you are in a lift with Richard Brandson for a few minutes and you have to pitch why he should donate £1 million to our CLIC Sargent charity'. We resulted naming our group 'the journey'  & decided to go for a factual approach and used different points who? what? needs? We explained who CLIC Sargent are, what they do & how the funding would help the charity. Other groups had some amazing ideas and really thought out of the box on how they sold their pitch. After completing our workshop elevator pitch task, we were given questions to answer on CLIC Sargent's new campaign idea and our views on what we thought of it. I will most probably write a post on this when it is released.
Saturday Evening we all went bowling at a local leisure center, It was a great way to get to know everyone in the group. As per usual I sucked at bowling, luckily I don't think anyone was playing seriously and we all had a good laugh! A few people were leaving very early the next day so when we got back to the house we said goodbyes and went to bed. 
Sunday Morning I had to get the mini bus to the airport at 12 and decided to have a shower in the morning...just as I got out of the shower the fire alarm went off,I instantly panicked, chucked some clothes on and headed to the fire drill meeting point. Everyone was confused about the alarm and was unsure what set it off therefore they acted as if it was a real fire and didn't ignore it. Within minuets two fire engines turned up and checked the building and alarms, they found the cause was coming from an alarm in room 11...MY ROOM! My shower was too hot and set off the steam alarm. It was a great start to the day NOT! My first time at one of the group meetings & I gave a great first impression! Everyone made a laugh of it so I wasn't too embarrassed. 
I really enjoyed the weekend and I will definitely continue being part of the group and go to as many of the meetings as I can. I hope that eventually it will help build my confidence by talking to and meeting new people. I am also privileged to be a part of CLIC Sargent's future and to be involved with such an amazing charity. It was also really nice to meet others who are further than me in treatment. I met two girls, one who was 3 years post transplant and another who is 5 years post transplant and although they have had some ups and downs, they are doing really well. This gives me so much hope for my future.
Always Smiling x

Monday, 5 May 2014

My Month In Photos | March 2014

I have been a very busy bee again in the last few months. Apologies for not blogging in a while, my laptop is broke & I have been unable to log onto my blog. I thought I would write about what I have been up to in the month of March, I wrote a post similar to this last month and am thinking about doing this every month as it's nice to reflect on what I have been doing and can look back in the future on my journey of recovery. I can't believe it is May already and we are 1/4 of the way through the year already! Time really does fly's Crazyyy!

The sunshine made an appearance for a few days in March which really made a change as lately the weather has been absolute rubbish.  I love to just get out when the weather is nice, I don't really mind where I just hate being stuck in. It was nice to go out for the day and I took Ella, her friend Izzy & Esme to trago mills. It has a park, train, rides & a mini animal park. It's a 30 min drive from home so we decided to make a day of it & take a picnic and enjoyed a lovely sunny day. 
Me and the girls went away to Butlins, Minehead for an adults 90s weekend. We had such a good weekend full of craziness!  We are all 90s kids & decided to dress in fancy dress one evening, we were rocking the light washed mom jeans, crazy hairstyles & of course the bubble backpack! There were 90s tributes and members of famous pop bands such as 911 and the one and only s-club 7!! Obviously myself and the girls loved it!  We were lucky to stay in a nice new caravan (thanks to my friends cj's parents who own one) It's weekend's like this that I thank god I am well and can eventually have a lot of fun with my friends.

A lot of you may have heard of the CLIC Sargent charity. I have mentioned them a lot in my blog posts & they are an amazing charity who have supported me since my diagnosis. This year I have been asked be a CYPAG member, this stands for CLIC Sargent Young Persons Advisory Group. CLIC are a leading cancer charity who support children, young adults and their families who are faced with cancer. They are a charity who involve the people they help in a lot of their work and campaigns . Being a member means I attend a lot of workshop meetings and answer surveys about CLIC Sargent and their work. This is a great way for them to understand what help and support us patients need. At the end of march I was invited to a workshop weekend in Scotland at the Malcolm Sargent House, I met a lot of other patients there and really enjoy being part of the group. The house is a beautiful relaxing place, I previously wrote a post last year when myself and my family stayed there for the week, you can read the post here. These are some photos I took on my I-phone of the weekend and I am currently writing a post about the CYPAG workshop which I will later leave a link to. 

After a tiring weekend of travelling to and from Scotland, I arrived home to celebrate my 'not so little' brothers 18th Birthday. If you have read my previous posts you would have heard of my life saving brother, Kieran. He was only 16 when he donated his stem cells to me & you can read all about it here. As amazing as he is, we are still siblings and bicker like mad about the littlest things but we share something special that no other siblings share.....the bond of life. Still 17 months on I can't get over the fact that his blood cells are keeping me's crazy! He had a great evening and celebrated it with lots of friends and family.