Posted in: Raising Awareness | September 8, 2014
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We’d like to use this month to share some special people’s stories with you, starting with Laura.
“The best way I can tell my story is start at the beginning.
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). I started having chemotherapy in my local hospital immediately.
Unfortunately, I seemed to encounter complications at every stage.
In the second month I developed chronic pneumonia and septicaemia. I started having seizures, and we discovered the leukaemia had travelled to my brain. I was transferred to Manchester’s Christie hospital, but soon after I arrived my condition deteriorated and I was rushed to intensive care. My family were told that I probably wasn’t going to make it.
Miraculously, I pulled through and I was given a choice; two years of chemo, or a bone marrow transplant. I chose the transplant. I had five days of intense chemo and total body irradiation. It was so strong it made me very weak, I slept a lot, my mouth was covered in ulcers, I couldn’t eat or drink, I suffered nose bleeds, vomiting and dry skin. But thankfully, I was able to have my transplant on 13th Feb. 2003. It was a surreal moment that I will never forget. I owe my life to the person who donated that bone marrow.
After the transplant I was incredibly ill and weak.
One day my mum noticed that something wasn’t quite right with my legs. I hadn’t walked in almost 3 months. I had developed acute poly motor neuropathy and drop foot in both feet, caused by one of the drugs I was taking. I had to have physio everyday, sleep in leg splints, pretty much learn to walk again. It was a very difficult time, and I experienced a lot of pain. I was finally given medication by my GP to help me cope. The tablets were amazing and I was finally able to sleep, I didn’t spend my nights up in agony with cramps. The drugs seemed to be working, until recently.
Lately I’ve been in pain that is indescribable, some days I can’t get out of bed. I wake up and wonder where I’m hurting today and hope that it’s not somewhere new. I have horrific headaches, caused by two tumours, not malignant but still there, and also areas of ischemia which causes dizziness because there isn’t enough blood getting to my brain sometimes. Tests have shown I have a small calibre fibre neuropathy, a degenerative form. There’s nothing that can be done except pain relief, it is degenerative and it will spread. So far it’s affecting my legs, feet, hands arms, lower back and hips. I need a wheelchair most of the time. The headaches have been diagnosed as chronic migraine caused by the chemotherapy I had. I also have fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition.
I was diagnosed 12 years ago and now I’m back in a wheelchair, on 14 tablets a day. I’m grateful to be alive, I know chemo saved my life back then, but it’s also ruining it right now. It’s very scary not knowing what the future holds.”
Childhood Cancer Survivor
Through the work Kidscan is doing, Laura’s story will become a thing of the past. In the future, there will be treatments designed especially for teenagers and children like Laura, so they can be treated quickly, painlessly and successfully.
We need the help of supporters like you to do that.
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