“He said: “It’s cancer.” I don’t remember the rest of the meeting. I couldn’t speak. I felt numb.”
Like many young people, my cancer diagnosis didn’t come very quickly. It wasn’t easy convincing anyone I wasn’t well.
It all started with an uncomfortable pain in my side. It wouldn’t go away so I visited my GP, and after some pestering, I was sent for a scan to look for possible endometriosis. The scan actually showed a 7cm cyst in my left ovary. The doctor told me it would have to be removed through key-hole surgery, but I would be on a waiting list as it wasn’t urgent.
I wasn’t happy with this at all. For the eight months I waited for that operation I was bothering every doctor I could find, telling them that I just felt wrong. Nobody would listen, but I knew something strange was happening because I was constantly tired. I quit everything I loved, I’m a singer and musical theatre performer but I stopped performing completely.
I remembered the cancer awareness session we’d had in school a few years ago from Teenage Cancer Trust really vividly, and I remembered them telling us to be persistent if we felt something wasn’t right. I listened to this, and I might not be here today without that advice.
When the time came to remove the cyst, I told the surgeon I had concerns, and for the first time someone listened to me. In hindsight, this conversation may have saved my life. The surgeon agreed to have an extra look about while he was in there. When I woke up from my operation the surgeon had removed the cyst but had also found something else. He thought it was scar tissue and sent it for testing. He told me it was most likely an infection.
A few weeks later he called my parents on a Friday. I wasn’t in but he told them to come with me for an urgent scan on Monday. I said to my parents “I think I have cancer” but they thought I was being dramatic. I just knew it. On the Monday, I had the scan and met with the surgeon. He said he had the results from the tissue he’d sent away.
He said: “Its cancer.” I don’t remember the rest of the meeting. I couldn’t speak. I felt numb. How could this be happening to me? I was 19 and scared. I felt alone.