My life since I said bye to cancer

Well I’ve realised I left my blog open ended and I’m aware some people follow the blog that don’t have me on Facebook so thought with the New Year an update was needed. In June I had my PET scan which came back clean, a massive relief for me and my family. My consultant showed me my before and after scans and I actually had a lot more cancer in me before my chemo started than the doctors had originally let on which was quite scary to see. I’ve had a check-up since then and everything’s still looking good :). The weekend after my results I went down to Dorset to stay on my friend’s farm which was the most fun ever, and had two nights in London with uni friends. Shortly after that me and my Mum went interrailing (Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris) and then as a family (with my dad and brother) we had a week chilling by a pool in Menorca. Freshers week at the start of my third year of uni was insane, with my besty pal coming down to Sheffield for two nights. In October I celebrated my 21st birthday with a fab night out which I can’t remember, in November I went to Edinburgh to see my favourite DJ Kygo, and in December I accepted a place to begin training to be a history teacher! In 2015 I’ll be going to Paris (a christmas present organised by my parents!), more interrailing (Berlin to Italy) and potentially going to Croatia. The last six months have been so happy and I couldn’t ask for a better support system. I was going to post regular updates of my hair but I’ve been so distracted by cancer-free life that I kept forgetting to take pictures! Here’s some that should be able to demonstrate progress made though.

This is the last blog post I’ll write so thanks so much to everyone who’s read it

 

lots of love as always

Bethany xxxx

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CYA CHEMO

Although I’m sleepy, sick and bruised, I’m writing this post with a smile on my face as yesterday was 12/12 – my last chemo. It’s safe to say I went out with a bang, spending 6 hours in the hospital, having the cannula inserted into my arms 7 times and prodded around under my skin and having to stop my chemo half way through for half an hour as I had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs. Thankfully some antihistamines sorted me out and my drip started again but it was really stressful. My blood count was low again so I have more GCSF injections to boost my bone marrow but I’m so used to needles now that they don’t really bother me.

One of the most common responses to people reading my blog is how positive I have been throughout this whole process and while for the most part I have stayed relatively positive that is not to say that I haven’t had the occasional break down. I get upset over my hair, the changes in my skin/face and body that I have no control over and the odd panic that I still have cancer in my body, or that it will come back (thanks a lot to John Green and a fault in our stars for putting that idea in my head), and of course when I’m in the house alone and everyone is out drinking. However, I can safely say that these mini breakdowns would have been A LOT more frequent had it not been for the support I have received. It sounds really cliche and a bit gimpy but you really do realise who your friends are when you go through something like that. It’s quite shocking really that there are some people who I thought I was close to but who still haven’t sent me a message asking how I am, but at the same time I don’t really care, as I have everyone I need already. If this experience has taught me anything it’s to just be more chilled about life, there is no point in stressing about things out of your control.

On a more positive note, the main purpose of this post was to just thank everyone who has supported me – anyone who has read the blog or written on it – thank you millions :). I’d also like to just thank the people who have treated me like a normal person who doesn’t have cancer, while quietly letting me know that if theres anything I need they’re more than happy to help – in particular the girls in my gender seminar and Caitlin. Special thanks has to go to Issy, who I can manage to have a three hour lunch with and not even mention the fact that I’m ill, spending the entire time talking about normal girly things like uni and boys. My Spooner/Sale Hill gang have been unreal – the fires, the trips to the pub/the quizzes and for noone batting an eyelid when i cba with my wig and wander round in my bandana/bare baldy head. I’m really sorry if this feels like a list but its my blog and i’ll write what i want 🙂

My main gal Melissa – thanks a bunch for coming to blood tests/watching me inject myself even though you’re squeamish, for listening to me moan about some quite honestly disgusting topics (particularly the one at the hospital after my infection), for always being there, making me laugh and especially for my unreal balloons/cake and cider after a stressful chemo yesterday.

Alex – for offering to type up my 5000 word essay when my arms were sore, for letting me rant to him about everything and anything and for generally being a history/life bestie

Daniel – for never complaining when me and Mel come and bother you when we’re bored, even though you’re usually up to your ears in work/ in the middle of watching something, for making me smile and for your endless history knowledge

Harry – for making sure the house is clean for me, I think without you I would have had about 7 million infections. and for not complaining when its our bin week which you have to do on your own because I’m at home with my chemo hangover

George – for never complaining even though I’m 99% sure that you can hear me singing quite loudly and out of tune to the Lion King and Pocahontas

Tom – for making it worth it when i stay up until 3 for everyone to come home – ‘stephanie’ ‘tabitha’ ‘why didn’t they buy jesus an iPad’, possibly the funniest drunk ever. also thanks for the lifts to various places for carrot juice

Alex (Sparky) – thanks for looking after me the other day (and dan too) and for buying me that energy drink, I still need to pay you back actually oops..

James – not entirely sure what to say without sounding like a gimp. thanks for not running for the hills when my hair started falling out, for spending a lot of time at chemo with me and for keeping me calm when I get upset and for generally making me feel like a normal person. You’re the only person I want to talk to when I’m tired/sick/hating life and the only one who can cheer me up.

Sozza, Evie and Beth – classing you as family as I don’t think we could be more close, I think of you as being more like sisters than friends. couldn’t have done it without yous, I love you so much yous are my rock and our ongoing Pitbull appreciation group has been such a good distraction from all of this, never failing to make me laugh. I can’t wait for the summer we’ve planned it’s going to be amazing.

My family have also been amazing, my cousins, aunties and uncles, grandparents for their endless support, nothing is too much trouble. Especially to my auntie daisy (and her clanger) for coming to almost every chemo with snacks that stink out the entire ward, magazines to keep us busy and pick n mix. NOTHING cheers me up like pick n mix. its my weakness. Thanks as well goes to my gran and grandad and Uncle Andrew for having the house professionally cleaned and lots of lovely presents. Also to my Nanny for making me about 50 lasagnes/moussakas and cottage pies for me to eat on the days where I’m too tired/poorly to cook for myself. My Mum, Dad and Pan for putting up with me when I’m in one of my awful post chemo moods where I don’t want to speak to anyone, lots of losties, for having plan-less weekends and for the probably thousands of miles travelled to and from sheffield for scans/doctors appointments and chemo. For lots of meals out and cocktails, and for listening to sobbing women/enya on repeat without (much) complaint. Anyone as well who have supported my family through this – thank you a lot. Lynne, Caroline and Keeley and my Uncle Gary – if I’ve missed anyone out I’m sorry but I’m sure if you have offered some support you know who you are!

I’m going to write a new blog post when I get the results of my scan, in about 2 months time. Until then I will be mostly revising, and then when my blood count is back to normal having a big celebration with people in Sheffield, then with my ryton gals and family. I’m going to post pictures of my hair so I can mark my progress on the blog as well, but I won’t post this on twitter or Facebook every time – it’s more a thing for me.

So that’s it for a few months, no more chemo hallelujah!

Lots of love as always

Bethany xxxxxx

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‘It’s like fraud! They should wear a sign!’

I am happy to say that after finishing my tenth chemo yesterday without any major hiccups I only have two more to go, and by the end of May I should need no more chemo! I’ll have the entire month of June free to eat/drink/do whatever I want and then go for a scan at the beginning of July 🙂 The only ‘uh-oh’ of this edition of blog is that my white blood cell count is very low again (this hasn’t happened since after my first treatment) so I have to be super careful for the next few days, and inject myself with GCSF syringes to stimulate my bone marrow into making more neutrophils. These should be somewhere between 1-8 and mine was 0.8 so not great, but the injections don’t really hurt and I should be back to my usual (admittedly low) blood count again soon!

After my eighth chemo my arm really hurt (my veins are well and truly gone now, one is kind of brown-y in colour and just refuses to let blood out when I go for blood tests) so my nurse Helen had booked me in to have a PICC line put in and gave me some super strong painkillers. However, after my ninth treatment my arm was nowhere near as bad as I had been, and although I did have to take some Tramadol, use a heat pack and numbing cream the pain was bearable so I cancelled my PICC line slot and hopefully my veins can hold out these last few treatments. The funny thing is that because my body has had so much toxic stuff pumped in it, the Tramadol (an opiate used for recovering Heroin addicts LOL) had little effect on me, and neither did the five cocktails and two shots I had when I went out with my cousins a few weeks ago – I think anything less strong than chemo my body is just like ‘ha, call this a challenge?!’ and alcohol is basically like squash. 

I’ve had quite a nice break at home over Easter, despite getting stressed about the amount of work I haven’t been doing. Because of the tiredness, sickness and arm pain it’s really hard to concentrate on writing and reading, and sometimes my brain just can’t focus on the words in front of me, or i’ll be writing notes and my brain will decide to write down something that doesn’t make sense/isn’t even in the book, which is fun. I’ve been out to Bolsover Castle, Afternoon Tea at the Hilton and had my nails done with my Mum, cocktails with my cousins and trips out to the beach, to Nandos (about a gazillion times) and saw the worst film in the history of the world with my friends, Sophie, Beth and Eve. Seriously though, if anyone is considering going to see Locke – don’t. I love Tom Hardy more than any other celeb, he is my no.1 guy and even I couldn’t stand it. We did spent the entire hour and a half (during which time all Tom did was speak on his car phone) playing on our phones and laughing. ‘If anyone dares tell us to shut up take your wig off and tell them to f*ck off’..

The most exciting news (for me anyway) is the events of this week. Wednesday is up there with one of my fave days of this year – I got 73 on my essay on eighteenth century gender, a new wig and Nandos for Daniel’s Birthday. I then spent 12-2:30am doing my seminar reading for the next day and waiting up for everyone to get back – drunken stories of Corp nights out are always worth staying up for. I won’t say exactly what the story of the week was to save embarrassment for certain people but it was very funny. 

Here’s a picture of my new wig: paid for by the Weston Park Cancer Hospital and sorted out/fitted/cut by Trends in Sheffield. I’m sure a lot more has happened since my last post but I can’t think! 

 

Lots of love as always

Bethany xxx

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Mmm mmm yeah yeah

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It’s been quite a while since my last post, as I’ve said before I don’t want any negativity on the blog and it’s been quite a tough few weeks. After my 7th chemo going swimmingly well with my new favourite Nurse Laura the Cannula Queen getting the IV in my arm first time round, I suffered quite a bit with the veins in my arm which sting for 3 days after my treatment because of the damage the Dacarbazine inflicts on them. This is not only painful but massively inconvenient, especially when I have reading and essays to do which involves note-taking and I can’t use my right arm. Things went from bad to worse when I had to go back into hospital with an infection but some antibiotics sorted me out and I still managed to go to the pub the next day (drinking a lot of orange squash with a hot water bottle under my hoody). However, things got a lot better when my Mum came down to Sheffield for Mother’s Day and then a few days later so did my friends from home – braving the three hour journey on the MegaBus and later finding out that what they were sitting on weren’t actually seats…

Having my friends there really distracted me from the prospect of facing chemo again the next day as we went out for pizza and cocktails, especially when all they can do is bicker with each other and absolutely rip Eve to shreds. Armed with coffees and subways, we faced 8/12 together without any major issues, apart from the fact I now have to have the Dacarbazine over 3 hours instead of 1 like a normal person so we’re in there for soooo long. My next one has been brought a day forward so will be on Thursday and that will be me 3/4 of the way through chemo, hooray! I also had a lovely night the night before when the boys decided that they would make a fire in the back garden which I thought was going to be a total disaster but was actually really fun, so relaxed 🙂 except when everyones shins got way too hot and there was a fight over who had the fire closest to them (rather than us all moving back which probably would have been a more sensible idea)..Image

In other news, while I was in Sheffield my Mum and Dad gave my room a makeover and we’re now in the process of getting new furniture which is a good distraction and also means that I now have a lovely grown up room to come home to when I’m poorly, rather than bright pink glittery stuff which I thought was an amazing idea when I painted my room in Year 7. I’m also getting a new wig, something lighter I think as the weather is getting better as my hair gets lighter in the sun because mine is thinning and worn from wearing it so much. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll need one though, seeing as my hair is growing back already and I’m now obsessed with stroking it (it feels like a baby’s head).

It’s also kind of yesterday’s news but I feel like I should explain why I kicked off over the whole ‘no make-up selfie’ thing and then posted a picture of myself wig-less and make-up less. I love love love that so many people donated and that’s brilliant, but it is infuriating to see people comment things like ‘I can’t believe I did this haven’t even straightened my hair’ or ‘we need to show people with cancer that everyone is beautiful’ (which is what someone genuinely wrote). Obviously I don’t speak for everyone who has cancer but seeing how normal people look without makeup is quite distressing, when people don’t NEED to draw their eyebrows on and don’t have huge brown bags under their eyes even though they’ve had twelve hours sleep. Also the hair comment was just a massive low blow, as much as I love my baby hair I’m counting down the days until my hair is at least chin length and I no longer look like a cancer patient. Again, I’m more than happy that people are donating and I thought a picture of myself sans wig would encourage others to donate, but people who posted pictures of themselves without donating, then complaining about how they looked really need someone (ideally me) to punch them and tell them to get a grip of themselves. 

I’ll hopefully write another post again soon unless I have another disastrous week when all I want to do is scream WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?! like I was two weeks ago, until then..

lots of love 

xxxxxx

Full Steam Ahead

Although my last chemo session was pretty stressful with it taking two hours, 3 nurses and 6 needles to get the IV into my arm, leaving me fed up, tired and looking like a pin-cushion – it is a relief to be able to say that I am now half way through my treatment, with 6 sessions down and 6 to go. The official countdown to the end of my treatment has begun and I have quite a long list of things I’m going to do once I’m better, ranging from eating endless amounts of chips and gravy from the questionable Broomhill Friery and going for ribs at TGI Friday’s with my family (recreating one of my all-time favourite moments – singing Centerfold in New York covered in BBQ sauce) to holidays and spa days. I am not ashamed to say that the food (and alcohol-related) aspects of freedom excite me more than the excursions – especially after the delivery of my ‘half-way there!’ picnic basket complete with wine, cheese and pate from my cousins. In other good news, despite having an unorthodox revision period and not being able to do half as much revision as I would have liked, I passed my January exams with a 2:1, which I am over the moon with!

I didn’t really intend for this blog to be a plug for charities but just want to mention another which I think is worth a mention. Last Wednesday Weston Park Cancer Hospital hosted a ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ event for teenagers in the area with Cancer, where beauticians volunteer their time to come and give people like me a makeover with products donated by some of the top cosmetic companies. I walked away from the event with not only a bag full of Chanel, Clinique and Benefit goodies but also feeling amazing, not just because Sharon had done an amazing job in making me look nice, hiding the bags under my eyes and my thinning eyebrows but also because of the other girls there. It was such a comfort to talk to people who were going through the same thing as me, and who were brave enough to not wear wigs. Their confidence and acceptance of their hair-loss meant as soon as I came home I grabbed my scissors and cut mine off – and have stopped being stressed when I wake up in the morning and there’s hair all over my pillow. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so empowered before, taking control of the situation was refreshing and, in fact I think I rock the pixie look.

 

Because it was one of the only weekends when everyone was in Sheffield, we decided to venture into the Peak District this weekend and I managed to walk 6 miles, trekking up Mam Tor (with plenty of water and Mars Bar breaks) then onto Castleton and Hope (spending a good half an hour thinking up related puns such as ‘oh I HOPE we get there in time’ ‘we can live in HOPE that we find the train station’ ha ha). Although it was tiring and we nearly missed the train, (sprinting along the platform was not one of mine and Mel’s finest moments), as well as the wind that meant I had to grab onto my wig with dear life, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. When you’re surrounded by such a beautiful landscape, people you love and have a tummy full of proper Yorkshire pub food and cider, it’s hard to be anything but happy – and I can’t wait for it to get warmer so we can have more days like it.

Thanks again for all your lovely messages, both private and on the blog,

love Bethany xxxx

 

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

I probably should have written this post about a week ago when I first started wearing my wig but it’s been a bit of a tough week and I really don’t want any negativity on this blog. It’s mainly down to the fact I’m back at uni and although I’m loving my new modules (on Slavery and Gender) I can’t help but feel like I’m ‘the girl with cancer’, which is pretty rubbish. Thankfully, now I have my wig on people are none the wiser and I’m just the annoying girl rustling packets of sweets in the library which I suppose is an improvement?! Anyway, last Monday I went and got my wig styled and fitted, as my hair was really really starting to look rubbish and you could see that I was visibly ill (again going back to the whole ‘girl with cancer’ around uni thing – it just really wears you out). Massive thanks to my friend Lewis, his mum and Johanna from Teens Unite who sorted out my wig and sent it to me in the post, and to Claire from Toni & Guy in Newcastle who cut and styled it for me, doing an amazing job. When you’re choosing charities and stuff to donate to you really don’t think about things like this, about people providing wigs to people like me who are ill like Teens Unite did, or MacMillan’s ‘Strength through Style’ scheme with Toni & Guy who cut and style wigs for free. It really is these little things that make the world of difference and my wig is so fabulous that someone from my course actually was confused by the fact that I looked the same as I did before Christmas, to which my friend responded ‘er, that’s actually a wig’ – which just goes to show how natural it looks!

In other news I found out that I will have to have all 12 treatments of chemo which is a bit of a bummer seeing as I was hoping they’d stop it early (wishful thinking I know!) which means I will be poorly until 30th May-ish, at which point I will wait a month for all the chemo to leave my system, then have a scan to see whether the cancer has gone and everything has worked, and whether I will need radiotherapy. This coincides with the end of the exam period which is worrying in some ways (as I’ll be wiped out so will struggle with revision) but also fantastic news as it means we can have an early freshers week round 3 celebrating the end of chemo and exams, as well as saying goodbye to my partner in crime before she jets off to Italy/Portugal/Spain for the year!

Also as I was writing this ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ came on my shuffle, so I want to just say thanks to my Spooner/Sale Hill pals, as well as my gang Soph, Beth and Evie for lighting up my days by laughing at other people. love u guys xoxox

That’s all for now, much love..

Bethany xxxIMG_2240IMG_2245.JPGIMG_2232IMG_2236

Chemo: The Basics.

I’d like to thank everyone who has read my blog and especially those who have commented on it, it’s really nice to know so many people are supportive and it really is a comfort to see how many people care about me and are following my journey. Whenever I feel down I always remember what my cousin told me, that there are a lot of people out there who love me, and it really does make me feel better. I had my fourth chemotherapy treatment yesterday, so I’m a third of the way through – yay! I thought I’d write a bit about my treatment and the side effects of chemo that I’ve experienced. The regimen I’m going through uses four drugs and is known as ABVD, a specific combination of adriamycin, bleomyscin,vinblastine and dacarbazine tailor-made for me after I give them my blood a couple of days before. The first two are administered through an injection through my cannula which my nurse sits with me for – this is always quite fun as although quite a few people suffer some nasty side effects during this, such as a nasty taste in their mouth, I usually don’t feel a thing (at most my arm feels a bit chilly). My nurse always comments that she likes this bit too as she gets to sit down and have a rest for a bit which I find quite funny, and goes on to tell me a long winded story about her children or her life in Doncaster.The second two are given to me through my drip, and the vinblastine is fine, except I think its quite toxic as there was big stickers on it saying FATAL (fun times all round) so my nurse sits with me through that too, but again, no side effects. The only problem comes with the Darcarbazine, which is really brutal on your veins, it burns them as it passes through. I’ve tried twice to have it on the normal speed but my arm stings and swells and goes blotchy and a bit grim so I have to have it at half the rate, which is usually fine – just a bit annoying as it then takes two hours. All in all we’re usually in the hospital for 4 hours at the least, but I have a ridiculous amount of snacks and the youth room in the Hallamshire is fab, with a tv, big soft purple chairs and free drinks.

So, what happens when we leave the hospital? I usually get a lift home to Newcastle with my mum, and feel 100% thanks to the anti-sickness drugs I’m pumped with before my chemo starts, if anything I’m a bit hyper/feel slightly drunk from the adrenaline of having successfully completed another session without any major disasters. Saturday and Sunday are pretty grim, feeling nauseous and tired, but I have enough drugs to make sure I don’t actually throw up, which is always a comfort to know. By Monday I’m fine, except for a sore mouth (as the chemo kills all fast growing cells, so my mouth often feels like its blistering) but again, I have mouthwash to ease the pain a bit. Wednesday is when I say bye to my hair, which I still have quite a bit of, although my scalp is showing in some places, I keep getting my flatmates to check my head for full-on bald patches.

By Saturday I’m back to my usual self and have a 6 days of forgetting I’m ill and doing things like having a few drinks with everyone before they go on a night out and staying up to see them all come home in the early hours of the morning – which surprisingly is the FUNNIEST thing. I really don’t want to give people’s names out on the blog but when a certain Liverpudlian is forced to take his ‘Wednesday’ socks off at 4am on a Thursday morning, and twenty/twenty one year old boys dressed in school uniform are running around in your wig making you call them ‘Tabatha’ there’s nothing you can do but smile. I’m also really happy to say that despite being told I didn’t HAVE to do my assignment and exams, I powered through and have completed them all – literally nothing can get in the way of me and my history <3!

Much Love

Bethany xx

 

Who cares?

Okay, so I’ve branched out and decided to make a proper blog instead of almost invisible one on the Macmillan Website – no offence to Macmillan or anything (my new favourite charity), but having a blog that I can make look pretty and customise makes me feel like a powerful independent journalist, something I’m quite enjoying the feel of. Tonnes and tonnes of my hair is coming out now, after my third treatment (it started thinning after the second but it’s really going all out at the minute) and I’ve decided I’m going to be one of those fabulous chic girls with short hair who wear big earrings, hats and paint their nails a ridiculously dark colour and have really big rings.

Just like to give a massive shout out to Girls and Lena Dunham. Sounds stupid but watching girls religiously for the past few weeks has really taught me that life isn’t all about looking marvellous 24/7 and you can have really really shitty hair and someone as hot as Adam (even though he’s obviously a psychopath) will still love you. Also there is nothing like dancing around in your underwear applying makeup singing along to Dancing on my Own. On that note, going to see 12 years a slave last night has done the same thing, this is EXACTLY why i love history so much, it helps you put life into perspective. I have such an amazing family and group of friends, this whole cancer business is just a bump in the ride of my fantastic life. I’ve also decided that hair is only strands of brown protein which grows from your scalp, which is kind of gross anyway really when you think about it, so I don’t care that it’s abandoning ship and leaving me. It is with this in mind that I am vowing to not complain about hair loss for at least a week.

Just because I don’t have a massive load of hair on my head doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, it doesn’t make me any less of who I am and it certainly doesn’t mean that no-one will ever find me attractive again in the history of the world. After all, the people that mind don’t matter and the people that matter don’t mind.

This is me.

The strangest thing about having Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is that I have no symptoms. Sounds cliche, but I genuinely believed for a good week and a half that they had mixed up my results with someone else’s – it wasn’t until the PET scan had come back revealing I had tumours in my chest and neck that it actually sunk in. If someone can see them inside of me with a special machine then they must be there. Another strange thing is that because I have no symptoms, and haven’t been suffering massively with any side effects of chemo (as of yet) – I keep forgetting that I’m ill, and have to remind myself that there are things I can’t do because my body is struggling enough as it is without me putting excess pressure on it. I found out in December 2013 that I had Lymphoma, and within 2 weeks my chemotherapy had started. I am a typical twenty year old girl and rather than being upset at the prospect of me vomiting or even dying (which is very unlikely), when I found out I was ill I was hysterical at the thought of losing my hair and at the prospect of gaining weight. It sounds vain and selfish and all of those other nasty things but my hair was beautiful, down to my ribs and incredibly thick – so thick that I used to have to get it thinned at the hairdressers. I am three chemo sessions in and, to my surprise I still have hair on my head, but it is only up to my shoulders and thinning more and more everyday. That’s definitely the worst thing I’ve experienced, the idea that I look ill, even when I don’t feel it. When I’m pale, with purple bags under my eyes and hair scattered on the floor around me but feel fine and want to do things like get drunk and eat disgusting food and look pretty but know that I can’t.

Another important note in my story is that I’m living and having treatment away from home. Because I’m a university student I live in a house in Sheffield with four boys and a girl and none of them are 100% sure how to deal with the fact their friend has cancer. Neither are my parents, who struggle to be over 100 miles away from me when I’m feeling rubbish and know they can’t wrap me up in cotton wool and protect me from all of the germs you find in a student house. I’m studying history – my greatest passion in life and couldn’t face the prospect of giving that up and succumbing to cancer, giving it everything I had. I am so determined to carry on and do well in my studies and I’m that stubborn and strong willed that I actually think I might be able to get away with it – although I think my aims of getting a first will have to be dropped.