Ambassador Charlotte is off to University

Kidscan caught up with our ambassador Charlotte this week, to congratulate her again on her fantastic exam results and being accepted onto a university course. We also asked her about her latest surgery, necessary because of the late effects caused by her life saving treatment for cancer.

“On 30th June 2021 I had another distal femoral osteotomy but this time I had it done on my left leg rather than my right one. Basically, because of the steroids and chemotherapy, my knees started to come inwards because of the dead bone on the outer side they collapsed inwards. So to reduce the pressure on my knees and my ankles they cut open my thigh, took a piece of bone out almost like a pizza slice, a wedge kind of piece, and then put my bone back together again. With some metal plates and few screws thrown in as well to help straighten it. 

I’ve got the two metal plates now from the two last surgeries and then in the future I’ll probably have my knees and ankles replaced and my wrist replaced as well and an operation on my shin…  by the time I’m done in a few years I’m just going to be like Iron Man! 

This procedure is part of longer-term treatment plan: 

Because of how young I am, because of my age, they don’t want to do the knee replacement or the ankle replacement any time soon because new knees and ankles only last 15 years max and are generally made for older people. There’s not much research in them for children. So if I continue growing, they’ll become no good and after the wear on them as well it’ll be probably 10-15 years they’d last? And each time they then have to re-do the procedure it takes longer and longer to heal, there’s more risks and its less likely to be successful. So they thought they would do these two surgeries first to try and take as much pressure off my knee and ankles so they last a bit longer and then when I’m crawling into the hospital, that’s when they’ll do my knees. 

Two months on from the operation recovery is going well: 

This operation has actually been a lot better than last one, its not taken me as long to do things. Last time I was sleeping on the couch for 8 weeks and didn’t have my brace off until 3 months down the line as I just couldn’t put weight on it and my pain was a lot higher. But this time we managed to get my pain under control a lot earlier on, so I’ve been able to push myself a little bit more and get back to doing more normal things. I’m back in my own bed already which is very nice so its a lot better, but it still takes time. Like I still can’t walk without both crutches and that’s just around the house other than that I’m still in a wheelchair.  

As well as undergoing a major operation this summer, Charlotte got her exam results: 

It was me so obviously there had to be some complications! With Covid we had log on rather than going into college but mine wouldn’t load up, so I sat there for half the morning with all my friends texting me saying that they’ve got their results ‘what did you get?’ And I’m like yeah mine have got some issues! The main reason was because I had to do an extra year, so they had to put mine in separately. But once I did find out it was a case of well, I need to ring my mother tell her and my dad and then had to do all the calls around the family. And I did a lot better than I thought I was going to, with all the time I had to have off from college between my last operation, Covid and prepping for this op as well.  

So, with success in her exams, Charlotte is about to embark on an exciting new chapter: 

I’m going to Edge Hill University to do children’s nursing. I move into halls this next weekend and then enrolment start of October. I’m excited, I kind of want to go and get it done now, the waiting is annoying me a bit now! We’ve got most of the stuff for halls and I’m like ‘I’ve got nothing to do now’ I want to get in there. One of my friends from college is going and doing children’s nursing too so I will know someone but we’re not in the same halls, so I’ll be meeting new people in halls and then in class as well. 

Charlotte has had support from the university to enable her to feel secure as she manages her recovery and longer-term late effects from treatment:

There’s not much we can do about my medications, a lot of them are antibiotics or pain killers. I need the antibiotics after the chemo and bone marrow transplant that I had, and the pain killers are for all the disability aspect of it plus having just had the operations, the pain killers are a little bit higher than they usually are. So, we can’t change anything to do with that otherwise I’m just sat there in pain not concentrating on my work, but the university has been really good trying to do stuff in my room so that its better for me. They are putting a lockable cabinet in the room so that I know my medication is safe while I’m in class or out. Because I’m not on light medication; there’s a nerve pain killer, general paracetamol, ibuprofen, morphine, gabapentin, anaesthetics patches, sleeping medication, so knowing that they are safe, locked away in a locked room it helps a little bit.  

Charlotte is hoping to bring all of her life experience to her studies and is looking forward to seeing nursing from a different perspective: 

I want to go to university, I like talking to people, meeting new people, I’ve gotten used to it a lot being on the ward so I’m looking forward to that. But I’m most looking forward to my placement that I’m going to be doing with university and local hospitals, I think it’ll be really interesting. I’m used to hospitals, I’m used to being there and I’m used to being a patient or helping out talking to some of the kids, but I feel it’s going to be very different seeing it from a nurse’s point of view, or a student nurse’s point of view, rather than the patient side of it. 

From all of us in the Kidscan team, we wish you all the best for this wonderful new chapter Charlotte. Bet you’ll be able to teach them a thing or two as well! 

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