Saima's story

I first went to my GP in March 2018 with a swollen gland and some upper back pain. I’d put the back pain down to my occupation – I’m a restauranteur - and carrying crates and heavy lifting. The swollen gland was more worrying. My symptoms continued to get worse and I ended up having a CT scan. The scan showed I had masses in my lung, lymph node and liver, so the doctors knew straight away it was cancer.

It took a few weeks to confirm where the cancer had started. The doctors thought it was probably lymphoma, because of my age. It made sense to me - obviously it was tragic, but I felt like I could deal with having lymphoma, and I knew statistically it was often quite manageable. When they sat me down and told me that it was stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, I was in absolute shock.

My partner and I were devastated. It felt like our whole future was in tatters. One minute I had all these aspirations and dreams of running multiple businesses, and having a cookbook, and I felt like everything was coming to an end.

As soon as they confirmed the diagnosis I was handed over to Macmillan team, who were fantastic. They helped to calm my partner down and gave us information to take away. And they’ve been there at every stage since.

The Macmillan Support Line has absolutely helped me navigate my way through being self-employed, informing me of various benefits and reductions I can apply for. Due to the side-effects of the treatment I’m on, I can’t serve food in my restaurant, but I’m still involved in the background with the admin and other things.

I have had palliative radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and I’m currently on immunotherapy and targeted therapy and having scans every three months. I don’t like to use the word ‘fight’ when it comes to my cancer. I’m having treatment and I’m doing what I can. My partner and I got married last year and my family and friends all got together to celebrate my 30th birthday. I’m not fighting the disease – I’m living with it.

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