Friday, 2 March 2012

The next few steps...

This is the face I probably pulled when they told me I had cancer.
September 2010.

It's hard to tell someone bad news. It's hard to tell someone that you won't be able to go with them on Saturday night. It's hard to tell someone that you're moving away. It's harder still to tell someone you have cancer. I know it's the hardest thing to tell your girlfriend you have cancer three weeks before her 17th birthday. 

Sarah Walker was my girlfriend at the time. We'd been together for nearly two years, and although she lived in Gloucester, over 200 miles away from where I lived, we were going strong. She knew I'd been at the hospital having a scan and text me while I was driving home from the scan on the 31st of August. She asked me if I was okay and I knew I couldn't say anything by text. I had to say everything was fine, even though it really wasn't. I called her as soon as I got home.

They found a malignant tumour on my pelvis and they think it's cancer. 
They found a malignant tumour on my pelvis and they think it's cancer. 
They found a malignant tumour on my pelvis and they think it's cancer. 

I can type it with ease (heck I managed to three times!), but saying it is a completely different story. I knew it would upset her so so much and it was almost as if by saying it, I was the one causing her pain. But say them I did. 

Just so you know, this part of today's entry may seem a little disjointed and somewhat scrambled. I don't really know how to say how it felt for both of us and I don't honestly believe it's possible to put it across in writing. I'll give it a shot though. 

I told her I had cancer. Her crying will stay with me until the day I die. Sarah's crying caused me to start crying too and I don't think either of us stop for a while! She honestly thought I was going to die, and if I'm really honest so did I. Sarah was a pillar of strength for me those few days and the next few months. Although we're no longer together she's still my best friend and I'm so so grateful for her. I wouldn't be here without her. Thank you Sarah! 

Sarah Walker.
June 2011

The next day, the 1st of September 2010, I had a meeting with Dr Cattermole at Hull Royal Infirmary. She would be giving me the results of the CT scan on my lungs the previous day. My parents and I were taken into a small room and sat down. The doctor looked me straight in the eyes and told me, in a quiet calm voice, "There's no easy way to tell you this but has spread to your lungs." I didn't know what to say but all I can fully remember is my Mum's grating, heart-wrenching cries. I don't think I'll ever forget it. My Dad fainted as he heard the news. It felt so strange to be the one telling my parents everything would be okay, even though I didn't believe one word of it myself. 

At this point I wanted to run away, to just leave and disappear completely. But I knew I had to stay strong for my family and friends. I had a bone scan (more on the different types of scan later on) and it revealed I had small tumours all over the top of my skull, a few on the left side of my pelvis and what looked like two small pieces on my spine. I didn't know what to feel or think. I knew I was definitely ill and I thought I was going to die. No 16 year old should ever think that. 
              My chest x-ray at the bottom showing the tumours in my lungs and at the top what a clear chest x ray looks like.
September 2010.

The correct term for a cancer that has spread is metastatic. This means it has spread to different parts of the body from the original tumour, which is referred to as the primary tumour. At this point I had metastatic bone cancer. Most likely one of the two main types of bone cancer; osteosarcoma or the rarer type, Ewing's Sarcoma.

On the 2nd of September 2010, Sarah and her Mum, Frances (Hi Frances!), both came down. I have to say they were both of tremendous help to both me and my parents. This was the day I had organised to meet up with my friends. I had to tell them what was going on and thought this was the best way. We met up in Hornsea, a small town near to me. I don't think I've ever made so many people cry! Not a dry eye in the house and a time I'll always remember. Thank you to you all for being there for me. On a somewhat less serious note, having just told my friends I had cancer I decided I wanted some chocolate of some sort (because I had cancer damn it and I wanted chocolate!). However I made the unfortunate choice of buying some Celebrations and it wasn't until one of my friends pointed it out that I realised what I'd done. 

Celebrations- The sweets to celebrate your cancer diagnosis with!

On Friday the 3rd I went for an MRI at Hull Royal Infirmary. This was to gain a better picture of my tumours on my pelvis so they could perform a biopsy of it. A biopsy is where they take a small chunk of the tumour and look at it under a microscope to determine what type of cancer it is. This enables the correct chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to be given. Because my cancer was bone cancer I would have to go to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham for my biopsy. I was booked to go on the Sunday and have my tumour biopsied on the Monday. 

I hope that's enough for today. I had to do a lot of this from notes I wrote at the time as I was so tired from not sleeping or eating. At this point I was considering how I would spend my last few months. Not speculating or daydreaming, but actually planning it. I thought I was dying. But I knew one thing was completely certain. I wouldn't give up without a fight. 


  1. Hi Nick back :)

    You are doing really well, go for it xx

  2. This is so good Nick! I'm Lizzi Walker Williams' step mom in law..Jack's stepmom..and I'm fighting cancer over here in the States! I have bladder cancer..since '03. I had to have my ureter and kidney on the left side removed Feb. 2011..another tumor popped up on a lymph node and then I had to do 6 months/cycles of chemo. I was first dx'ed when I was I can't imagine how it would feel to be your age..but I guess at any age, you don't want to hear the "C" word! We just have to keep fighting! I don't know what I would do without God's help..and the friends and family He's surrounded me with! Keep fighting..and WRITING! Great job! Lynn Williams

  3. I will never forget the day you told me! :'( was horrible!! Just keep doing what your doing, were all so proud of you :) xx

  4. You and Sarah are so lucky to have the wonderful friendship you have, and it was great to finally get to meet you. You are a true inspiration. xxx

  5. Thanks everyone, it really encourages me to hear everyone's comments.

    Sad to hear that Lynn and I wish you the best! It is indeed hard at any age, not just at a young age.

    Thanks Lizzy, it was lovely to meet you you too!