I was feeling very unwell. I was really reluctant to go to the doctor because I just didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew that it was going to be serious. Eventually my mum and Mark, my partner, took the decision out of my hands.
By this point, I was having real difficulty breathing. I was initially treated for a chest infection. But the GP recognised very quickly that it wasn’t just a chest infection. A week after my initial visit, he called an ambulance and had me sent to hospital.
By the time I was admitted to hospital, I was seriously ill. My resting pulse was 125bpm as the swellings were pushing on my heart. On the first night they were fighting for my life.
I spent two nights in A&E while some brilliant doctors worked very hard to diagnose me. They then moved me up to the ward and I spent two weeks in hospital getting back to a more stable state.
The person who diagnosed me was my consultant. She explained that they thought I had a cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma.
In a way, when you are the patient, it’s easy. You don’t have time to be scared. You know you’ve got to fight. A positive mental attitude is so central to that.
For my family, it was devastating. They knew I was seriously ill, but obviously a cancer diagnosis can be hugely terrifying. My mum almost fell apart when she heard the words, 'Your daughter has cancer.' I actually had to ask her to leave the room because I couldn’t see her upset – she had to be strong for me.
The hardest part of my cancer journey was seeing the fear and upset in my family’s eyes after I was diagnosed.
I think it’s much harder for the people who are supporting the patient. They feel a real sense of helplessness because they are obviously going through it with you, but there’s a limit to what they can do.
I remember mum saying to me that if she could take it from me and have it herself, she would, because it was more painful to watch me go through cancer.