I was seven years old. I don’t remember having any symptoms, but when my mum spotted a lump in my neck she immediately knew something was wrong and we went to get it checked out. I remember it vividly, it was such a whirlwind.
After a number of tests, I was diagnosed with non Hodgkin lymphoma, which had spread to my skin. Although I was young and didn’t really know what it meant, I knew it was serious.
The lump in my neck needed to be removed and then I had a course of chemotherapy which lasted for several months. My treatment was intense and I missed school for nearly a whole year, most of the time I was either in hospital or indoors, trying to avoid catching infections.
I thought school was a bit boring before, but missing it made me really want to go back - I missed all my friends. I was really outgoing when I was younger, but sadly, my treatment changed this and I grew more timid and less energetic.
But I finished my treatment and I am looking forward to the future. And I know how lucky I am as l lost some friends who were on the wards with me. There was one friend particularly who went into remission but then passed away.
As a result of my treatment I have ongoing side effects, including a problem with my shoulder, so I have had to cut down on things like swimming and dancing but I am hoping to have surgery in the next year or so.
And my story doesn’t stop there.
I was just at the end of sixth form when my mum was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Mum had always gone for her smear tests, but after having some gynae problems the doctor advised she should go and get checked out. My mum ended up having chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The treatment really hit her hard, she was exhausted and lost her hair.
The diagnosis was a shock and she hadn’t told me and my younger brother until it had been confirmed as she didn’t want us to worry.
It was awful to see but I could relate with what she was going through. She’s doing well now but she found it incredibly difficult as she was fully aware of what the consequences could be.
I spent so much time in hospital as a young girl which was tough, but it made me think I wanted to help others. I felt inspired by those who looked after me and interested in what was going on there. It was the nurses whose help really stayed with me the most, and that’s what I’m now training to be, and I may then go into Graduate Medicine to train to be a doctor after that too.
I can’t wait to be fully qualified and give something back. I’m going to put my all into my job, because I know too well the impact having cancer can have on someone’s life. When you know you are being cared for, it can make all the difference.
Alex is supporting TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes For Good campaign, one of the UK’s longest running clothes collections, which raises money for Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens. You can help beat children’s cancers sooner by donating a bag of pre-loved quality clothes, accessories and homeware to your nearest TK Maxx store. Visit cruk.org/kidsandteens or TK Maxx