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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Check Yourself

With Childhood Cancer Awareness Month coming to a swift close, today is an apt time to talk about it. Today is my angel Michaela's birthday.

In her teens, Minnie was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and she, like many, was diagnosed far far too late. This lead to intense and grueling treatment, having her in and out of hospital for years. Minnie put up a great fight, and her spirit never faded, yet the cancer was stronger than she was, and eventually won its fight in February 2014. Had she been diagnosed earlier, there may have been a slightly different outcome, but that is something that we will never be able to find out.

Late diagnosis, especially in teens, is far too common. I was diagnosed at pretty much the latest stage as could have been possible, because my doctors were looking for the wrong things; I didn't know any symptoms; and I was being mid-diagnosed over and over and over - 7 times, I think. It is a common problem that doctors and GPs won't listen to teens - my GP was convinced I just had an eating disorder because I was a 15 year old girl, losing weight without explanation who was lethargic and not eating much. No. Another doctor was certain I was suffering Chrones, but I just just 'too embarrassed' to be honest about my bowel movements. Again, no. I knew something bad was wrong, and it took me seven months for an accurate diagnosis.awareness

Every. Single. Day. More than ten children in the UK, and 3 in Australia, are diagnosed with Cancer. This is 1 child in 500 developing cancer before the age of 14 (in the UK), yet this only accounts for 0.5 of cancer cases. It is far too common. 

I had nine of these eleven symptoms, yet Cancer wasn't considered until seven months into constant doctors visits and consultations. 

An alarming number of my friends and peers who I speak to, aren't in the habit of checking themselves. It may sound cliche, and most are of the view that 'well it's not going to happen to me', but that's how I thought only 5 years ago. And it did happen to me. And it could happen to you. Just once in a while feel yourself in the shower, and check any freckles or moles, and give your neck a feel and ask yourself how healthy you're feeling. Don't ignore anything your body is trying to tell you. Naivety will not help anything. The amazing Lynne McNicoll is a perfect example, who decided to check herself one nice day in the shower, and found a strange lump which turned out to be breast cancer. If she hadn't found it that day, the diagnosis would have been later and therefore more severe.

Obviously finding Cancer is just never ideal. But the earlier it's caught, the less chance it has of putting up a fight against you. Too many friends, and fellow patients have lost their fights and too many people are still naive about it.

So please, check yo'self before you wreck yo'self.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


So it's a Thursday night (Technically Friday early morning) and I'm in bed watching a Cancer documentary. I LUV 2 PARTYYYYY. 

So yeah, I'm watching Channel 4's documentary 'Curing Cancer' and well well, this is familiar. Reflecting back to where I was this time just three years ago is nothing less than surreal. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing; almost as wonderful as time - and they say that time heals all wounds.

This time three years ago I was in the horrible stage between treatment and remission - unsure whether I would remain a habitant of Sick Kids Ward 2, or whether I would regain my freedom, my life and my an extent. And to my absolute delight, on December 21st 2011, I found out I was being awarded with the latter.

So now I am two years and ten months in remission with two years and two months remaining before I am 'cured' of Hodgkins Lymphoma. Incredible, isn't it? I can't begin to express how lucky I am.

On March 9th & 10th 2011 I thought I would die. I was naive enough to assume that Cancer means baldness followed by death; yet here I am reflecting on it as one of the best things that has ever happened to me. 

Cancer forces you to grow up far too early and make decisions that no 15 year old should have to make and it puts you through hell with chemo and radio and scans and drugs and sickness and spending more time in hospital with your nurses, than at home with your family.

But it also forces you to have a positive outlook on almost everything. Life, health and time are such blessings and you no longer take that for granted. I met incredible people and I had amazing experiences. 

One of my best Cancer friends was taken from us in February. Michaela was one of the most inspirational, positive, hilarious and loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure of befriending. She took everything in her stride and could find the funny side to everything to do with cancer. Her sense of tumour should be taken as a gospel and it's people like her that make the positives of my Cancer story and make me reflect on the past three years so positively.

Reflecting on my roller-coaster of experiences, I don't believe it happened to me. The hospital appointments and the weight loss and the hair loss, then the weight gain and the chemo and the radio and being hungry all day every day then not eating for days on end; the shingles and living in isolation and the infection risks - the sympathy! But also the nurses and the friends and the charities, the free Grumpy and the support and trips to Centre Parcs and Lapland and the medical knowledge and the excessive free time to watch TV and films. 

It feels like a different life. I am almost a third of my way through my University degree, looking up international universities to study at next year and I have the most incredible friends and the best boyfriend and my life is so bloody normal, whilst at the same time it's just so far from normal.

So, Cancer is shit.

But, Cancer is great. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


"That's why her hair is so big. It's full of secrets." 

Secrets are a strange thing.

Everyone has secrets. 

Some people may share more than others, but everyone will still have secrets. 

I have now been at university for over six weeks and my Cancer remains a secret to 99% of people I have met here. Out of my twelve flatmates, four know; and one is a friend from home who knew anyway. The thing is, it's hard to keep a secret so big - strangely enough it comes up in conversation more often than you would imagine..and with me being so open about it and able to talk about it so casually at home, it's proved to be difficult to keep covering up my tracks when I accidentally blurt out a hint. 

I have just lay down and explained a very small part of the story to one of my closest flatmates. It's the first time I've spoken about it so flat out in so long. It's strange. I remember so many tiny little details; so many conversations with the exact words that were spoken from over two years ago..yet it is all still such a blur. The whole 10 months is such a blur. It felt good to get it out to him; relieving. It's just such a heavy piece of baggage to carry around. Sometimes I want to wear a sandwich board just explaining everything so that everyone knows..but at the same time I love that no one here knows, and that I'm not pre-judged for it and no one has sympathy for me and no one cares or is intrigued or 'inspired' by me. It's so liberating yet so confining. 

The 'Aw your hair was so long'  'how come you cut your hair so short?' and 'you look so different' comments that people throw around whilst looking back at photos; the 'What are those marks?' 'What are those scars from?' questions that are constantly asked. It makes me just want to rant about everything. But no. "Yeah, it was." "I just fancied a change" and "Aw I had an operation." are just now standard, automatic responses.

I'm now left wondering how much longer I will have this secret for - surely it will come out one by one; people will come across my blog, or I will blurt something that will all put the several small jigsaw pieces together and people will begin to figure it out. It's just not the type of thing you introduce into conversation during freshers week. 

"Hi. I'm Laura, I'm from Edinburgh and I had Cancer.."

I don't want to tell people. I fully accept that they will all find out but I won't be the one to tell them; and maybe I should be..but I don't want to.

Other people in my flat will have secrets that they're bottling up, so I can keep mine if they can keep theirs. That's fair, right?

Anyway, another pointless blog. Just wanted to get all of this down. 

Goodnight X

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Life is like a very long book; it contains many different chapters all of which contain some significant information, all necessary to follow the storyline. Some chapters are more eventful and more exciting than others, other chapters aren't so good; maybe sad or boring, but still equally as important.

I am about to finish my current chapter and move onto the next - and luckily this one is one of the more exciting chapters. On Saturday, I leave home and move to university. I'm excited - not even nervous - just excited and ready to leave Edinburgh, and the past few years behind with it. And it's a good time to go; I've finished school, and happily so; spent four months at home with friends and family and work and moved onto clinic only every three months, following almost 2 years since I finished my Lymphoma treatment.

Last night, I was invited to attend an Inaugural Lecture at the Royal Infirmary, presented by one of my consultants, Hamish Wallace. The title of this lecture was "After the Cure: Improving outcomes for young people with cancer" which, of course, is of particular interest to myself. Prior to being invited to his lecture, Hamish had texted me asking if he could use me as a case study: "I will be talking about Hodgkin's and fertility but nothing private in relation to you - only showing your pictures and talking about Laura - no surname" he said. So I agreed, and decided to go along to the lecture. It was interesting; I learnt a lot - both about realistic outcomes and predictions for my future, and about myself and my treatment and disease. Hearing Hamish talk publicly about me was strange; it was so interesting but also surreal that it was me he was referring to. Us humans are very good at locking things away and never thinking about them - me having Cancer is a very deranged and distant memory; it's surreal and really doesn't seem like it ever happened. I was sick, tired and weak for 10 months. I was bald. I lost so much weight and then gained even more. I spent my life in hospital and I lost contact with so many people. Did that actually happen?! Yeah, it did. And when someone presents that information, with pictures of you, your scans and all these statistics about how you're so likely to suffer another chronic illness, problem or second cancer, on a six foot screen in front of 100 people, it all comes flooding back to you and it's a feeling I can't quite explain. It's terrifying; a 70% chance that I will suffer another serious health problem later in life; a 20% chance I will develop a second cancer and that I'm 40% more likely to suffer cancer, a second time round, than any of my friends of siblings!? Surely that's not fair? I've had my fair share of Cancer so why should I be the one to have it again? Facing these realities is something that no one wants to do, especially not a Cancer survivor. Fighting and beating something like Cancer is such an achievement, but it doesn't all end when the scans are clear - it doesn't ever end and that's what Hamish is trying to improve. Shucks, huh?

So here I am, going to university having never thought I would be this old this quickly..even though I'm still so young. I've had the most amazing summer with the most incredible people but I am ready to leave that here and start fresh in a new city - LEGGGOOOOOOOOOO.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Onwards & Upwards

As we came into a new year I decided I would try and write a blog each month in 2013. As you can see that plan failed epically as we sit nearing the end of February and I'm yet to write one. I seem to begin each blog with an apology of absence and so I apologise for both the lack of blogs and the vast if anyone cares. 

..Do people still even read my blogs? Didn't think so.

So anyway, happy belated new year! Here's to another year of health and happiness..hopefully. After my disaster of a 2011, 2012 sure made up for it and 2013 is looking even more promising. 

Having said that, my opening line of my 2011 diary (yes, I keep a diary) is:

"New year, New start and I'm feeling pretty optimistic for this one; couldn't get any worse than 2010"
HA. HA. HA. 

Anyway, 2013 brings me my 2 year Cancerversary (since D-day (diagnosis)) as well as my 2 year Remission anniversary; putting me into clinic only every 4 months - what a treat! It also brings me my graduation of school, beginning of university, girl's holiday and eighteenth birthday. Horrendously scary and big year. 

The only news I really have is that my school has raised £3000 for Sick Kid's Ward 2 (Oncology & Hematology (Cancer & Blood)) over the past two years in memory of Peter Murray, an SMC boy who passed away after fighting cancer. So that's good..that we raised that amount obviously.

AND AND AND remember I told you all about my friend Rachel? WELL RACHY IS DONNNNEEE. After 127 painful days, Rachel is finally finished and joins our community of cancer beaters YEA YEA YEAAA YOU GO GURL. (Lol)

I'm really struggling to think of anything to say; I just wanted to blog to let everybody know I'm still alive (awkward cancer joke) 


Friday, 28 December 2012

Festive Reflections


First of all, I would like to wish you all a very Merry (Belated) Christmas and a prosperous, happy and healthy New Year. The Winter season is always one full of family fun, festivities and food, making it one of the happiest times of the year. 

However, some, like me, have even more celebrations over the festive fortnight. December 21st was my one year anniversary of being in Remission. I have been cancer-less for just over a year now and life has never looked so promising. The same day, I got an unconditional offer for Northumbria University which just made my already-amazing day, even more amazinger.

So I'm going to take the time to reflect on the highlights of 2012, before plunging into 2013.

January 2012: My first cancerless month
I started off 2012 by having my first month of not being a cancer patient. I had my first clinic check up appointment which was all good news and I began to get back into the swing of things.

February 2012: Trip to London
In the middle of February i went on a school trip to London. It was my first proper time out of Edinburgh after my 1-hour-boundary from hospital during treatment. London was fun.
February 2012: FYSOT
The week after my trip to London, I ventured down to Nottingham with some of my cancer friends to attend the 'Find Your Sense of Tumour' conference with TCT. We attended conferences and speeches about life with cancer along with 500 other people who actually understood us, as they were the exact same. Being surrounded by people who talk about cancer as if it's just another one of 'those things' was weirdly relieving and comforting. An unbelievable experience.

March 2012: It's Good 2 Give's First Ball
After much preparation and hard work from Lynne, the charity hosted it's first ever ball. A huge success and incredible evening. The 2013 ball was sold out before we even had a confirmed venue, crazy excited for round 2!
9th March 2012: CANCERVERSARY
The 9th March 2012 was a very special day as it was my first cancerversary. Cancerversary is my made up word to mark my anniversary of diagnosis. It seemed surreal that it was an entire year ago that I was diagnosed, and a year later I was through treatment, in remission, losing the weight and gaining the hair. I marked the date with a meal and drinks with three of my best friends. Happy as Larry. (Who's Larry?)

April 2012: Floridaaaa
In the Easter Holidays I got my first proper holiday after my 1-hour-boundary to FLORIDAAAA. My mum took my brothers and I to Universal to visit all the parks and stay in the Hard Rock Hotel. Quite easily one of the best weeks of my life. Harry Potter Land was well worth the anticipated wait. Unreal.

July/August 2012: SUMMER
SUMMER. Easily the best summer yet. After my Work Experience in London, I backpacked to T in the Park, Broke away to Crief Hydro, Jet set to Palma/Magaluf/Puerto Pollensa/Everywhere in Mallorca and Chilled and partied (legend) at home. An unforgettable summer.

November 2012: Fashion Show
I hosted the It's Good 2 Give fashion show again this year alongside Grant, Iona and Shannon which was the best fun. A huge success, raising a crazy sum of money.

December 2012: EVERYTHING
December has been a crazy month. From working in Jack Wills, to birthdays (my birthday WAHEY), to sending off my UNAYYY application, to the Christmas Ball, Christmas (x2) and New Year preperations..I. Am. Shattered. Incredible month, nonetheless.


  • A couple more university offers would be nice
  • Good exam results
  • Good hospital results
  • GENERAL HEALTH (hahahahahahahahhaha we can all hope)
  • Recovery for my cancer friends
  • Success in my charity work 
  • Long hair (LOL)
  • Another amazing summer
  • New and existing friendships hehehe

So I'm sorry if some of you have dozed off during this post, but I wanted to reflect on the past year in order to look forward to the next. 

May 2013 bring you love, happiness and health with a lot of success along the way.
All my love X

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Only Way Is Up

There is no better feeling ever ever than the feeling when you get good news. Not good news like 'you passed your NAB' or 'we're going to Nando's for dinner' albeit, that is always some preeetty good news to get; I'm talking like, REALLY good news.

In Cancer world, a world very parallel to non-Cancer world you can get everything from the bottom extreme of a friend passing, to the top end of a friend being cured and quite literally everything in between. And let me tell you, in the past 2 years, I've had it all.

So I told you about my good friend Rachel in my last blog. She was diagnosed with pre-Leukemia 44 days ago after being ill and feeling pretty rubbish for a while. She was extremely lucky in that she was caught very very early, because she pursued her GPs. She thought something was wrong and she wouldn't take no shit from no one. So here she is, not even bald yet, IN. REMISSION. 

Somebody get her a trophy, please. Some people have colds..or bleeding noses for longer than that. Rachel was diagnosed, treated, and fought cancer in 44 days. I don't even know what to write, it's incredible. 

This is some of the best news I've ever received  And I don't think it's quite appreciated as much when you haven't experienced it. Being told you'll get better, and that you've gotten better is an indescribable feeling. It was genuinely one of the best days of my life. AND I GET TO SEE RACHEL TOMORROW AND WE CAN CELEBRATE TOGETHER YAAAAAY. 

Anyway, I wanted to let all my followers know. Cause it's amazing. Yeah.

Whilst we're on the's 22 days until my year Remission anniversary. YAY.