Emma was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in MARCH 2011 at the age of 15.
I had been feeling unwell for a few days but kept passing it off as flu or cold like symptoms. I had been having sore heads, tired legs and a pressure pumping feeling on the top of my head. On Tuesday the 22nd march 2011 I went to school just like any other day but had to go home as my head was really sore. I went to my granny's house and lay down until my mummy collected me after work. My mummy then took me to the clinic to get a blood test done. After getting my bloods taken I went to my granny’s and mummy went back to work. At 4:00 my daddy got a phone call from Dr Kyle saying I had to go to Altnagelvin straight away as my haemoglobin bloods were only reading 5. On arrival I was taken straight away to a cubical where the doctor and nurse examined me.
They told me I would have to stay in for blood in the Sperrin unit ward 43 in an isolation room as my immune system was very low. Then on Friday the 25th march I was told after having a bone marrow biopsy that I had A.L.L - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia which is a blood cancer which attacks the bone marrow. The only place I could be treated was the Belfast city hospital. So on Friday the 25th march I was admitted to Belfast city ward 10 north as a room had come free. As I was 15 at the time of my diagnoses I fell into the adult category rather than the children’s which meant I would be placed in ward 10 north, completely an adult based ward. I was told I would have to stay in hospital for 15 weeks. Where I was not allowed to go outside or be in contact with anyone with the cold. In Belfast I had another bone marrow biopsy carried out to confirm what strength of ALL that I had as to decide how much chemotherapy it required. Within a matter of days I had started receiving chemotherapy treatment.
After being told I had leukaemia, my first concern was my school work and how I would be able to manage it whilst being unwell. I did the start of my GCSE exams in hospital. This centered on a strong family unit, good friends and positivity from the onset with at least one good laugh per day. This is not to say that it’s a walk in the park because it isn’t. The drugs you are taking upset you mentally, physically and emotionally. All the staff that where caring for me where amazing that’s why the staff in the hospital are phenomenal. As the time in hospital progresses days can seem long, but I read a lot, kept myself updated with sport and news.
My close friends have helped me on my path through treatments and even today these people are my rocks. At the end of June 2011 I did get home for good and thankfully I am in remission. Then in the year 12 as I wasn’t able to go back to school I had home tuition. I did the final of my GCSE exams sitting at my kitchen table and achieved 7 GCSE's Grade's A-C. If it wasn't for the guidance of my tutors I wouldn't have achieved the grades that I did and for that am very thankful. I then returned to school to do my AS Levels in religious studies, applied science and health and social in which I achieved Grade's BBC. This year is my A Level year and I am continuing with my chosen subjects. I plan to go to go University in September 2014 hopefully to study BSC Honors in Adult nursing. Life is good at the minute, some days can be tough but I have got great support all around me, be it family, friends and staff at the Bridgewater Suite or my own local GP.
I am so grateful for the work the Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI does, without them and the research that they do I possibly may not be here today. That is why it’s important to support the people who have helped me. By donating to Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI we know that the money goes to fund research directly in all types of blood cancers here in Northern Ireland. I also appeal to people if you are fit, please donate blood or platelets as often as possible, as these items are extremely important as part of the treatment that we as patients receive.