The start of a new year. Despite the bad times in 2017, and I say this with determination in my heart, I’m feeling positive about 2018. Last year started with a heartbreak when I was dumped via text (tragic), just before I turned 21 and then I was diagnosed with cancer. So really,
the whole year was a mess and I didn’t really catch a break. I’m starting 2018 with the thought “let’s get the first part ofthe year out of the way, then this is my year.” Because nothing has changed for me, I can have all the resolutions I like, just as much as everyone else, but they may have to wait. I went to sleep in 2017 with an aggressive cancer, and guess what, I woke up in 2018 with it still. Living in battle every day, with something that is trying to kill you from within, is exhausting. I may be smiling and I may be winning the fight, but the wounds are deep and will take so much time to heal. I’m alone with my thoughts for most of the day, and there is only so much Netflix binge you can take before even that becomes hard work.
One thing I am always grateful for during this, is the NHS. Although they are in crisis and are struggling in many clinical areas, I would never have even known if it wasn’t for the news. As someone who has been using the NHS nearly every day for the past 6 months, I am yet to experience any of the struggle. I appreciate that cancer patients have high priority, but if I need a blood transfusion, the blood is delivered that day, if I need platelets they arrive within hours and if I need a bed, they will always manage to find me one. The care I have received has been miraculous and I can’t thank the doctors and nurses enough. They are so underappreciated, yet still arrive on the ward for every shift with such a positive and hardworking attitude, and always work 12 hour shifts, usually staying later than expected. They are under so much pressure to deliver meds to everyone on time, monitor observations, complete the paperwork, communicate with other professionals and so much more, yet nothing is ever neglected or forgotten about. These nurses spend more time on the ward with the patients, than they do at home with their own families, and we are like a little family on there.
Since my diagnosis, I have lost people in my life. It’s so difficult to upkeep relationships with people when you are going through this. Most of the time my phone screen makes me feel sick and I heavily rely on my friends to make our relationship work, and for that I am sorry. I am sorry I can’t text like I used to and I avoid spending time with you, but it’s all too overwhelming. I find it easier to say no to seeing people, than I do to get up, have a bath, put my wig and makeup on and sit and chat for a few hours. It’s all just too tiring. Some people have been absolutely amazing, I don’t expect anything from anyone, but the people I least expected to be around have been in touch every single day. You really do see who your true friends are! Life carries on for everyone, it’s going a bit slower for me as I’m not as busy, but other people probably don’t realise they haven’t checked in for months, because time just flies, and I understand that completely. One thing which has been heart-breaking is not hearing from those you would have expected to call. Yeah we all hope the chemo works and the cancer goes, but on the days I’m wondering what if it doesn’t, I often reflect on how I’ve spent the past couple of years. If, a year ago, a little birdy was to tell me that in a year’s time I would be diagnosed
with cancer and some of the people I was surrounded by for most of the past two years, who ‘loved’ me and included me in their family, would not give a flying fudge… I’d have run a mile. If there’s one life lesson I have learnt from all this, it’s surround yourself with the people who truly LOVE you and want the best for you. You should never have to change to please other people, because people out there will love you for exactly who you are. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
I’ve actually been really well this cycle, it’s quite unnerving! I had my PICC line put back in on the Thursday morning which was just a disaster from the beginning to end. They took me down for the procedure and they weren’t ready for me, so I went back to bed and waited anxiously to be called back down (and this was so much effort). When I was eventually laid on the table, it had unlucky written all over. Just to say, for anyone reading this who will go through this procedure, it’s actually FINE. I’m being dramatic about this one because it was more traumatic than it needed to be. The first time I had it done was a breeze, I was in and out of there within 20 minutes. Since the chemo has ruined my veins (obviously) it was a lot more difficult for the surgeon to find a vein and insert the line (wahhhh!!). The 3 injections of local anaesthetic did next to nothing so I could feel her poking about… all in all it took her three attempts and there was a lot of bleeding. This would never normally happen, as they would usually of alternated arms and put it in my left this time, however as I had a lymph node removed from under my left arm, they couldn’t operate on this arm! I’m not going to lie, I cried. Not massively but I cried through the nervous laughter and I made the Health Care Assistant come in and hold my hand, I wasn’t feeling very brave that morning. Once she finally got it in, the end was curved, so she had to feed a guide wire through the line to straighten it out (I felt every poke). BUUUT now it’s all done and it’s working beautifully.
I started my chemo that afternoon and also had the dreaded tube turning. Basically, in
November, I had the terrible trauma of an NG Tube… the yellow one that goes into your nose and is pushed down your throat in to your stomach. How ANYBODY has these inserted and puts up with them I do not know. Children are amazing with them, no fuss! These people are the unsung heroes of life. I’ll do a separate blog post about this anyway, and how much I cried (again), because after they had used this tube to feed me, I had a gastrostomy tube inserted. So without going into too much detail, I now have a tube coming out of my tummy and it can be used to put my meds through and also a special liquid feed, it’s a more long term solution. It sounds really gross and unnatural but it has been a GOD SEND. I lost 10kg in weight towards the start of my chemo as I was so poorly and went about three and a half weeks without eating a single thing, so the dieticians had to intervene! So I had to have this tube turned and fiddled about with which is just cringey more than it is painful, and it went fine I was just dreading it.
So yeah, this cycle I spent 3 nights in hospital for my chemo, and I have been home ever since! Usually, I’m in hospital for about 5 days, home for 5, then in for 5 etc. and have had an infection and a blood transfusion every single cycle so far. This time around, NO temperatures, NO infections and NO transfusions! This is probably because they have removed one of my chemo drugs now which was quite a nasty one, and also I’m building
my strength back up now so my body is fighting back a lot quicker! My body really is a little fighter. Last cycle I did nearly die, I had sepsis and was almost moved into intensive care. One of the nights in hospital, my mum didn’t even put her pyjamas on because they didn’t know which way it was going to turn. LUCKILY, this was all down to the PICC line (well, not lucky) so once it was removed the antibiotics started working and I was so much better. I didn’t even notice the severity I just spent so much time asleep, but my poor mum had never been so frightened. Health is most definitely wealth, and there is nothing more important than that. I suppose everyone can make improvements to themselves each New Year, but I guess I just want to make other people happy this year. I want to appreciate the people I love and do more kind gestures for people I don’t know. After all, I’m hoping more than anything, for another chance at life.
daisy x x
PS: If you are feeling generous and would like to do something to support a good cause, head over to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/daisyellis and donate whatever you can! My amazing brother and his amazing girlfriend are running three half marathons within two weeks to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, who have helped us hugely. Thank you so much to everyone who has already supported and to anyone who helps us in the future!