Some bad news today I'm afraid.
It's something I had always hoped I would never have to blog about, and something more frightening to those affected by cancer than the initial diagnosis. I can't quite believe that I'm writing this blog.
Relapse, recurrence, end of remission are just three ways to describe it.
Yes, s**tily enough, my cancer has come back.
*inserts crying, swearing, and general negative emotions here*
This is why I've been so quiet recently, in blogging and social media.
So, as of last Thursday, when I got sat down with my consultant and told the results of my scan, I am once again a cancer sufferer/patient/whatever. I have Non Hodgkin Lymphoma, again. This time, I'm 17. This time I have a university application to cancel. This time I'm being open about it, broadcasting almost. This time I might need YOUR help. I am of course devastated, I had just applied you University and my life was getting back on track. There's not much point in moping over it all though.
Now I'm not dying, please don't think that. There is a plan, there is treatment, and I will get through this again. Second time round though there are quite a few differences in approach.
I'm going to need a Bone Marrow (stem cell) transplant. The very thing I've been harping onto you all about infrequently, is now going to save my own life. Seeing as chemotherapy clearly hasn't gotten rid of my cancer for good, this time we're bringing out all the weaponry, guns blazing to kick this cancer's ass, good and proper, and forever. I will have more chemo, and then the transplant.
Some of you may be in the know, but a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant involves the donation of stem cells from someone with matching HLA groups, which ae transplanted into someone who needs the ells, to beat their cancer or other blood disease. The donor will be a living person, who will not suffer any major side effects from donating, just the knowledge that you have helped potentially save someone's life.
My transplant donation will come from someone selfless, as above. My 15 year old sister will be tested to see if she is a match for me, but this is only a 25% chance. The likelihood is that I will have cells donated from an unrelated donor, a stranger. A hero.
If I have a stranger donor, it will be because they signed to a registry and made a 'pledge' that they would donate if they were ever needed.
I'm asking something now of all you reading this blog. Please, if you are able to sign up to be a potential Bone Marrow (stem cell) donor. It will increase the chances of there being a match for me when the time comes, and could help one of the other 1,800 people who will need a transplant this year, in the UK alone. Or you may help someone net year, or the year after, or even someone overseas. The possibilities are vast.
This Bone Marrow donor business, is something I guess most pople will at least have heard about, especially if they are a follower of this blog. The thing is, it's not just someone needing you to become a lifesaver. Now, it's me- Emily Clark, the teen pinning these words down, the girl who aspires to be a doctor and loves to sing is the one urging you to join a registry. If it has been something you've just scrolled on past or dismissed as irrelevant SIT UP AND LISTEN. It's real for me now. Really, really real. I hope an emotion within you, whether it be sorrow because of my cancer returning, empathy and pity for 'that' girl with cancer, or admiration incites a want to SIGN UP.
There is more concise information on my Become a Lifesaver: Join the stem cell register page, but for now, focus on what your reaction would be if I were your sibling, child, parent, family member or friend (maybe I am) would you immediately sign up? Would you offer to be tested to see if you could donate? If the answer is yes, then please join the register, or at least enquire to find out more. Do it for me, do it for the other 1,800 people.
So many of you, when faced with bad news think 'I wish there was something I could do to help.' To put it frankly there is.
If you are 16-30 years old, sign up to be a lifesaver via www.anthonynolan.org
If you are 18-55 years old, be a hero and sign up at www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk
I can't ask in any other way, and I hope what I've done shows quite how important this cause is.
Imagine the impact if everyone reading this signed up, and then got Just One More to sign up, who got someone else to sign up....so on and so forth. We could make a massive difference. I say we, it's only you who can get the ball rolling.
This has been hard to write, and even harder to post, but I hope it makes an impact.
I've been in remission once, and I will be again, hopefully soon. I've said before, together we can help #makeRemissionPossible
You can read more of Emily's blogs about the life of a teen with cancer, find out more about her and get involved with her campaigns by visiting www.remissionpossible.org.uk