Laura's account is shared by her mum, Gillian
What’s the worst thing that could happen to you? Would it be your pet dying? Would it be your parents breaking up?
When I was asked that question I said something happening to my family, something big. Well guess what something has happened to my family. We've been twisted around and around so we feel like we're in a washing machine. We've been shaken up and down then, we've been hung on the line and do you know what could be evil enough to want to do that to a family. I'll tell you. One word. Cancer.
Cancer isn't choosy about who it attacks. It's not just smokers or old people that get it. Anyone can. Cancer wasn't picky when it decided to come alive in my body. I was a healthy 15-year-old girl. There was no need for it to want to settle and cause havoc. But it did. You don't notice cancer at first because it's sneaky. I didn't notice it at first. But as the cancer grew I could feel it taking over my body. I lost weight; I stopped eating; I was ratty and snapped at even my closest friends. Well of course I didn't know what all these horrible emotions and feelings were. I'd never had them in my life. My mum and I just put it down to teenage hormones. But surely the never-ending pain in my knee and the sleepless nights weren't down to teenage hormones? I mean none of my other friends had pains and none of my friends were taking two types of painkiller to get through school.
Being a teenager I loved to go to bed, and I hated getting up. Now it was quite the other way round. I hated going to bed, most nights I would lie and cry or moan in pain. My mum decided enough was enough so she took me to see our local doctor. He said it was just muscle pain and that I'd be fine. He asked me if I'd been doing any sports recently. I said no and laughed, as I am the least sporty person alive. Then I remembered that quite a lot over the summer I had been using my friend's trampoline. Maybe I had just pulled something.
So I stayed on the painkillers and prayed it would get better soon. But it didn't. In fact it got worse. Much worse.
One day in October 2004, I was waiting to get on my school bus to go home. As my bus pulled into the bay I was pushed roughly from behind. I was knocked to the floor with the force of loads of people crowding to get on the bus.
My knee hit the floor hard and then, invisible in the crowd I was stamped on. I screamed with the pain it was excruciating. Friends helped me onto the bus and I called my mum and sobbed down the phone for her to pick me up, as I couldn't walk from my bus stop.
The journey back home seemed so long. I felt like I was dying, I wanted someone to help me, to tell me it would be fine. As my bus pulled in to my stop, two boys picked me up and said they would carry me to my mum's car.
When I arrived home mum took me straight to the doctors. This time it was a female doctor. She said that I had a lot of fluid round the knee and I was going to have to rest it for a few days. So I did.
But it got worse, rest obviously wasn't helping me. My knee was so bad and so painful that I couldn't even bend it. So the doctor suggested I saw a physio to see if she could help. So with a pain in my knee I went to see her.
After a few more physio sessions went by, I didn't think I was getting anywhere with it. My knee was still killing me. I was still on painkillers and my sleepless nights were getting worse.
One day the physio turned to me and said; "I'm not happy with your knee I think it's got bigger." So she went off to find the doctor, who took one look at my leg and went to phone a consultant straight away.
A few days later mum, dad and me went to a private clinic. He looked at my knee and booked me in for an X-ray.
The next day I was booked in for an MRI scan. I was taken into a room that had a huge machine in it. I was put into it and was told I would have to straighten my leg. I tried, as I didn't want them to think I was weak. So I tried but I couldn't do it. It hurt so much. A nurse held my hand and comforted me. I really wanted my mum and couldn't understand why she wasn't there. Dad and I had to sit and wait to be seen by the consultant. When he saw us he looked grave. I looked for signs of a smile on his face but there wasn't one. "I'm so sorry Laura. You have cancer," he said.
If you have ever had your whole world come crashing down in front of your eyes and you knew that there wasn't a thing you could do about it, you will know how I felt. But if you've never had it you will not know how it feels. I saw faces: my mum, my dad, my brother, Nana and Granddad, Claire and the boys. I saw each of them all happy. I was frozen like a huge bucket of water had been poured over my head.
I turned to my dad who smiled at me through his tears. It scared me seeing my dad cry. I wanted to see my mum. For the first time I knew why she had been unable to see me when I was having my scan. She was too distraught and had cried hysterically. I wanted to go to her, to have her hold me and make it better. I was taken to a relative's room and sat waiting while mum and dad spoke to the consultant. Then my mum came into the room. She flung her arms around me and hugged me tight; I never wanted to let her go. "We can do this," she whispered to me. "I cant." I sobbed. "I'm only fifteen."
So many thoughts raced through my head. I have to tell my brother Ricki, I'm going to lose my hair. Even though I had been told, one of the worse things you can be told my main concern was my hair. How selfish is that! The next hour past in a blur I don't remember that much about it. I was supposed to be returning to school, I wanted to go I had to tell someone. Claire.
I will never forget her face when I told her. It was like part of her was expecting me to jump up in the air and shout: "Gottcha!". When she realised I wasn't kidding she shook all over like she was freezing cold. She asked me once more: "Are you sure?". When I said yes only then did the tears fall and another world had come crashing down that day. My mum pulled us both into a huge bear hug and we sat in our own little bubble the three of us just crying together.
The school nurse then said we had permission from the year head to sit out of our lessons for the day. All Claire and I wanted now was time to talk. The rest of the school day passed and I went home. But when you have just been told you have cancer even going home seems like the worst place you can be. Everyone was very quiet. Not wanting to talk much through fear of upsetting me. Ricki came home and it has never been harder to look my little brother in the eye. We just had a massive hug. I went to bed that night wondering what my life was going to be like now. What would I become?
My new 'cancer involved life' started just a week after I was diagnosed. I was whisked away to a London hospital for a more scans and a biopsy. For anyone who has never had a biopsy it is one of the most painful things you could ever have done. Ever.
They put a needle through the muscle and tissues and then the bone to reach a sample of the cancer. I know what you are thinking how could they leave her awake? Well they didn't thank god. I was knocked out. But waking up was the worst thing I could have done. I wish I had stayed asleep in the little anaesthetic bubble where no one could hurt me and I didn't feel pain or emotion.
For the next day and night I was on a high dose of morphine. I screamed the ward down. I had nurses sitting by my bed day and night. Also because I was on a lot of drugs I kept having hallucinations.
I saw elephants walking past my bed and one time when my dad came over to see if I was all right, I asked him not to hit me.
But if you think what I was going through was bad, think what it was doing to my mum and dad. They had to sit day in day out and watch their only daughter suffer and there wasn't a thing they could do. Believe me they wanted to. How could they not? In the end my mum got too exhausted and one of the head nurses ordered her to go home.
So I was left on my own. I never used to sleep at night , I laid awake looking at the ceiling and wanting to pinch myself and wake up from what so far had been the worst nightmare I had ever have. But for me the nightmare was about to get worse. Much worse.
I was at the London hospital for about a week when they said that they were transferring me to another hospital via ambulance so I could start my chemotherapy. The next hospital was in Southampton. I don't remember much about that journey either as I was still on morphine and still in a great deal of pain. I think I just slept most of the way.
When I got there the first thing I thought was this hospital looks like an airport. There were shops everywhere and it was so big and modern. I was taking to level G, which were the all the children's wards. I was put on a special ward called Piam Brown. I was told later it was a ward for children with cancer and leukaemia.
I was put in my own room and I met back up with my mum and dad. They looked a little rough but I wasn't one to talk. During the night I was in so much pain again that I was given even more morphine. My mum said she came in the next day and saw me lying there she was very scared. I know what she must have thought. I would have scared me to.
I'm not completely sure what happened in the first few days, as I was still pretty much in a bubble still. I was depressed and stopped eating. I was tired all the time. I was snappy and irritable with everyone even my mum and dad who were only doing the best they could.
The doctors and nurses tried everything to get me to eat. But I had just started my chemo and it was making me sick and shivery all the time the last thing I needed was someone standing over me trying to get me to eat.
My mum can remember the day my chemo went up for the first time. I was screaming and crying and so upset about having it done.