Back in 2008, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the femur. At just 14, I was placed on a children’s cancer ward and I had nine months of chemo, plus surgery to replace the bone in my leg with a metal prosthesis.
I learned to walk again on my bionic joint and when I finished chemo, I started to live independently after spending almost a year with my poor mother sleeping by my side.
My family and friends were amazing throughout my whole cancer experience & beyond. Life after cancer was definitely made easier for me because I’m surrounded by such wonderful people. My sister was the one who actually suggested I create this page to show others who are going through cancer right now that there can be life after cancer. I’m now twelve years away from my diagnosis and here’s what has happened in that time:
Finished high school with 5 GCSE’s and 3 A Levels
I studied for my GCSE’s while I was in hospital and sat them a few months after I finished treatment. The hospital tutors who helped me were the BEST – I honestly couldn’t have kept up my studies without them. My school were also fab, buying me a laptop so I could do my coursework from home.
I’ve only got 5 GCSE’s in the core subjects but it didn’t stop me going on to get 3 A Levels in English Lit, Psychology and Drama. If anyone ever tells you GCSE’s are the be-all & end-all, don’t believe them.
Graduated with two degrees
After my A-Levels, I flew the nest and studied at Royal Holloway University in Surrey. My sister lived close by so I wasn’t totally away from my family (have you guessed we’re a close family by now?!) but I really wanted to move away to experience a new place.
I started studying my degree in English and Creative Writing just three years after I was diagnosed and I absolutely loved it. The course was amazing but I also loved making new friends & becoming a proper adult in such beautiful surroundings. I’ll treasure my uni days forever.
After I graduated with my BA Hons, I won a scholarship to study a Masters in Creative Writing which was another amazing experience. I graduated with Merit in 2014.
Abseiled off a bridge, climbed a mountain and walked miles for charity
I love fundraising and have taken part in many midnight walks for cancer charities. A few years ago, I abseiled off the Newport Transporter Bridge too but my biggest challenge to date was definitely completing the Cwm Llwch horseshoe walk in Brecon last year. If it hadn’t been for Yan, I would never have got through it. For starters, I thought I could do it in my trainers instead of actual walking shoes.
You’ll be pleased to know I now have a full kit for hiking up mountains, including waterproof coats and sticks.
Bought my own place
Once I finished uni and started working, I saved up and bought my own place near the beach when I was 24. I absolutely loved having my own apartment as it was my little sanctuary. It was also the place I truly learned to love myself as I spent a lot of time getting to know myself better.
I’m actually selling my flat right now because I’m buying a house with the love of my life (eeek!) but it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Travelled to beautiful places
When I was in hospital, I wrote a travel bucket list that I’m still making my way through. I haven’t actually managed to travel outside of Europe yet (I nearly made it to the US this year but COVID put a stop to that!). But I have managed to see some beaaaauuutiful places, including Santorini, Venice, Malta, Amsterdam and Monaco.
And great news – even with a heart condition and an internal metal prosthesis, my travel insurance is always pretty cheap.
Being stuck in a hospital bed when you’re 14 going on 15, you think you’re never going to meet the love of your life – oh, the drama of your teenage years!
Turns out I already knew the man I was going to marry when I was diagnosed. Well, actually – I’ve known him since I was 3. He’s my best friend’s brother and although we’ve been friends for years, we actually got it together at the end of 2018 and got engaged a year later in gorgeous Scotland.
It was truly magical.
Started my own business
In 2020, I started What Comes Next Coaching to help cancer survivors and people with chronic illnesses.
I always, always wanted to do something to help others and it took me years to work out what it was but I finally realised what it was during the COVID lockdown. I’m so happy to be helping others love themselves after cancer.
The story continues…
Those are the biggest things so far but along the way, there have been so many beautiful little moments too.
I can’t wait to see what else life has in store for me.