It took a long time before I was finally diagnosed with osteosarcoma in April 2010. I’d been experiencing a painful lump above my gum for a while and was eventually sent by my dentist for further tests at Hereford Hospital.
It was a real shock but I am a pretty strong person and just got on with it.
Over the next months, I had gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Birmingham Hospital, followed by major surgery which consisted of whole top jaw taken out and reconstructed I have also had teeth implants and am in the process of having plastic surgery to re-model my face.
Things will never be the same again. I can't open my jaw in the way I used to and it has really affected my confidence and relationships with others. But my friends and family have really given me strength and having bone cancer has taught me to appreciate life a bit more. I have four children Matthew, Luke, Edward and Isabelle and I am extremely proud of them. I currently work as a nursery assistant and carer to support people with independent living. I find it really rewarding and love my job helping others.
My message to others affected by this cruel and devastating disease is to stay positive. Make sure you spend time with your family and friends, appreciate every day you have and don't take life too seriously. Raising awareness about primary bone cancer is very important to me and my family. My sister Heidi spoke at the Bone Cancer Research Trust conference in 2012 and I want as many people to be aware of this so they don't have to go through the same thing as I did. If I'd known about it sooner I might not have had to go through such major surgery as I did.