I'm Still - Claire Tinsdale's Story
Every day, three people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Claire Tinsdale from Ballymena is one of these. She was diagnosed with A.L.L. in 2013.
In January 2013, Claire was working full-time and it was incredibly busy. She started to feel dizzy, have headaches and sporadic vomiting, but she put it down to her frantic workload. When she noticed a shortness of breath climbing the stairs, she made a mental note to exercise more. When her mother noticed some bruises on her legs, she encouraged her to see her doctor. With blood tests at the GP it was immediately clear that she had Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia (ALL). Things accelerated rapidly and, in a state of shock, Claire was admitted to the City Hospital the next day, to begin a daunting six months of treatment.
Claire, who had lost a close friend to melanoma months before, had seen first-hand the effects of cancer and what she could be facing. In disbelief, she focussed on beating leukaemia and surviving. Her whole life went on hold as she took on this battle, surrounded by family and her husband and partner of 15 years, Gary.
Claire began a two year course of chemotherapy and was told she would most likely need a bone marrow transplant at the end of this. Thankfully, her younger brother John was a match and instead of waiting, the bone marrow transplant was carried out in June 2013, after just two months of chemo. Claire credits John with providing the life-saving strength she needed to come out the other side.
Claire is now back to work four days a week and has been given the all-clear to pursue her life’s passion again - travelling. Her itchy feet have taken her to Spain twice this year, with another trip there on the cards and plans to spend Christmas in New York City (one of the travel goals that kept her going during treatment).
Claire, a huge cat-lover, was also delighted to have been reunited with her beloved cats, who were fostered out while she was undergoing her treatment.
Claire’s outlook on life now is simple: Live Peacefully. Dream Big. Be grateful. Give love. Laugh lots.
After battling A.L.L., Claire is still planning adventures – and she’s still loving life.