Ellie Waters, 17

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma

"...despite the blindingly obvious symptoms, I didn't think for one minute that it could be cancer."

When you think of a rapidly growing lump, an obvious diagnosis – clear in your mind- is cancer.

But, I was only 14, so am I an exception?

 

Many GP visits

For several months, I had this annoying lump in my left butt cheek

that wouldn’t stop growing – so embarrassing, right? Even when I

became chronically constipated, or feeling severe pain in my left leg,

or having trouble to urinate, I said nothing. Some would say that I was

fiercely independent for dealing with that all on my own, but I wasn’t,

I was incredibly naïve, because I thought that I would suddenly wake

up and these problems would go away – I was incredibly wrong.

Instead, my symptoms got so bad that I finally told my mum, and a

doctor’s appointment later, I was on a 10-day course of antibiotics

for an abscess. Despite the hope that I felt, the lump actually got

bigger, in the mean time I was getting sicker and sicker. Another trip to the doctors,

another flaming course of antibiotics…

 

Rapidly, my condition began to deteriorate again: it was so uncomfortable to sit down anywhere, I was very lethargic, I looked as white as a ghost, and my constipation meant that my appetite dwindled completely. Another trip to the doctors, no more flaming antibiotics, I was on my way to the operating theatre for an abscess removal operation – hallelujah!!!

Diagnosis

On September 13th, 2015, 7 days after my abscess removal operation,

my parents told me that the doctors thought that I had cancer and we had

to go by ambulance to the Queens Medical Centre first thing in the

morning. My world came crushing down and I was in complete

shock: despite the blindingly obvious symptoms, I didn’t think for one minute

that it could be cancer. I am going to be honest here and say that I screamed

and cried like a baby, and the thought of the future made me numb

because it was so unpredictable and fragile.

 

Lots of treatment

Rhab-do-my-o-sar-coma – why does medical jargon have to be so complicated?

I was 14 years old, still recovering from the news that I had cancer, and now I

was given a diagnosis that I couldn’t even pronounce, let alone spell!

Ahead of me, I faced the prospect of 9 rounds of intensive chemotherapy,

possible surgery, 28 sessions of radiotherapy and

12 months of maintenance chemotherapy. I couldn’t comprehend how ill

I would become or the uncertain future that lay ahead of me,

but the one thing I could control was my attitude towards

my journey: from day one I told myself that I WILL fight this cancer

and I WILL stay positive – no concoction of drugs could override

my immense self-belief and positivity.

Of course, there were days that I felt like giving up, or that I felt

that I was certain to die of this disease, but you get through it and you stay strong.

Being the founder of TeensVsCancer

Currently, I am 18 months in remission and I am living life to the full!

I still get 3-monthly scans and regular consultations with my doctors,

but I am beginning to feel normality settle into my life again.

In September, I will begin studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths

at A-level, and my biggest achievement so far is certainly

being the Founder of TeensVsCancer.