“I was just like any other 13 year old. I loved spending time with my friends, with my mobile glued to my hand. If you’d told me I was going to get cancer, I wouldn’t have believed you. Cancer didn’t happen to people like me.
“Things began to change when I started feeling extremely tired. I fell asleep early every night and could only run halfway around the athletics track in PE before my muscles hurt so much I had to stop. Mum wondered if I had been staying up late but I knew I hadn’t.
“I was referred by my GP for a blood test and six hours later the hospital called saying I had to come in straightaway. I wasn’t worried about it but I wasn’t prepared to be told I had leukaemia. I even had to ask what leukaemia was.
“To me, cancer meant sick people in hospital. I felt scared and angry too. Why me? But looking back now, why not me? The next day I was taken to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at University College Hospital London which is just for teenagers.
“It didn’t look or feel like a hospital ward and was more like a second home. There were computers, arts and crafts, a pool table and comfortable sofas to sit and watch TV. I was to stay there as an inpatient for chemotherapy treatment. The side effect that bothered me the most was losing my hair.
“Without my long hair, I didn’t even feel like a girl anymore and I couldn’t stop crying. Dad cheered me up by buying a fluffy wolf hat and I was known as ‘Fluffy Girl’ whenever I wore it. It proved to be a great confidence booster until I was fitted with a human hair wig.
“Some days were tougher than others but I have brilliant memories of my time on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit. Christmas Day 2012 was fantastic and a lot of fun, with Christmas lunch provided by the hotel nearby.
“At the end of 2012, I was well enough to go home. A few months Hannah and famous friends open a new outpatient unit in 2013 later I was asked to officially open a new Teenage Cancer Trust outpatient unit at University College Hospital Cancer Centre alongside Sarah, Duchess of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Ivan Gazidis.
“The Arsenal Foundation raised £560,000 towards the build when Teenage Cancer Trust was the Club’s charity partner. Four months after I was diagnosed, I was told the cancer had gone.
I still have to have weekly blood tests, oral and intravenous chemotherapy and I visit the new Teenage Cancer Trust ward for this. My treatment will finish on March 7 which is also my dad’s birthday. It’s the best birthday present I can give him.”
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