During the summer holidays of 2019 my knee would ache every now and again. We thought it may be growing pains as I am very tall for 14. Once back at school I found PE lessons difficult with my leg aching.
My mum took me to see my GP on the 1st of November, who found no swelling, lump or bruising but asked us to have an X-ray just to be on the safe side. So, we went straight for an X-ray and returned home.
Within the hour our GP called for us to return.
My mum and I went back to GP unaware of the news we were going to receive. The doctor informed us that they had found something on the X-ray and that I had a type of bone cancer, osteosarcoma!
Upon diagnosis I felt very scared and worried what the future held. It was an unknown world I was about to enter.
After having my biopsy, we were given a plan of chemotherapy and surgery. I had to have lots of chemotherapy sessions starting December 2019 and then a limb salvage surgery in February 2020, followed by lots more chemotherapy, along with physiotherapy and hydro pool therapy for my leg. I still have not got full bend in my knee but am continuing working hard with daily exercises and have regular physiotherapy sessions.
Chemotherapy sessions were very hard, and I was sick from the first dosage. After trying lots of the sickness medication I was soon sorted to what best suited me and although I felt sick it stopped.
The hardest part of this journey was losing my hair, which was quite quickly after the first few rounds of chemo, this I felt was losing my identity and I hated looking at myself so removed mirrors from around the house.
I also suffered very badly with mucositus in my mouth and was unable to eat so had to have food through my peg in my stomach.
The sessions also made me extremely exhausted and I would sleep most of the days.
My time on ward was strange at first but myself and my parents soon felt settled and all the staff from cleaners, cook, auxiliary, nurses and doctors took the time to chat to us and became friends. We had our own private en-suite room on the teenage side which had been painted with bright colours and had led mood lighting and with a large settee for a parent to stay with me.
I had beads of courage, every beads represents something, eg chemotherapy, stay in, bloods took, surgery.
The hardest was not being able to have both parents on ward due to COVID-19 restrictions and many times I just had to FaceTime my dad as he wasn’t allowed to visit.
Missing a full year of school has also been difficult and losing contact with friends has been hard especially with COVID-19 but I have made lots of new friends on the ward who were also going through treatment for osteosarcoma and am still in touch with them now on social media.
We help each other through the tough days.
I completed the plan in September 2020 but still had to go to hospital weekly to have my immune therapy. I am pleased to say my last one is next week (December 2020)!
My nurses have been fantastic and are like my extended family.
I have had to adapt and change the way I do everyday things like getting dressed, shower and especially walking around, bending, and getting up and down stairs.
My family support and all the staff in my hospital have given me strength to fight every day. I continued to look forward into my future and not to look back.
My message to other patients going through osteosarcoma would be stay strong no matter how hard the time may seem and to keep focused on your goals for the future as you still have the ability to achieve them.
An early diagnosis is crucial as a lump or a bruise could be a sign of osteosarcoma and luckily for me my GP acted straight away which lead to my treatment starting quicker. I hope my sharing by story it will help raise vital awareness which could mean earlier diagnoses being made.