Hi, my name is Grace and I was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma in April 2017, when I was 13.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was experiencing agonising pain in my right knee and femur and was misdiagnosed with growing pains over the phone. My mam told me it was nothing to worry about as that’s what the doctor had said to her. We carried on with our lives for the next couple of months and in that time I did two theatre productions and many rehearsals despite my knee pain. I started waking up during the night in a lot of pain and that’s when I knew it wasn’t growing pains. We decided to book an appointment to see my GP and he made me go for an X-ray at 9am the next day. I had an MRI, CT scan and biopsy two days later and I was diagnosed that evening. I had a tumour in my knee about the size of an orange. I had over a year of chemotherapy and also had surgery.
My experience of surgery hasn’t been bad but it hasn’t been good. It’s been very frustrating, interesting, annoying, amazing, funny, sad, painful, strange and so many other words I could use to describe it but I’d be here all day.
Surgery isn’t anything like I expected it to be. I thought I’d have a risky surgery to remove my tumour and replace my knee and femur and as I was a very fit girl before I had cancer, I expected it to take a few months to recover and then I’d be able to walk, run, jump, hop, skip and even bend my leg but that wasn’t the case.
I was told that when I woke up from my Surgery I would be in a brace and it would be on for a couple of months while my leg healed and then I could try and learn how to walk again. It was 4 moths after my surgery when it hit me that my leg would never be the same again. I still had my leg brace on and I hadn’t bent my leg since before my surgery. My surgeon came in and told me to do a straight leg raise (lifting my leg without using my hands or anything to help) and I was so scared to do it but I did it! That’s also the moment when I realised I was stronger than cancer and I was going to get better and more mobile.
So here I am, over a year since my surgery, 7 months into remission. Life is hard but you’ve got to face it. If you believe you can do something then try your hardest to achieve it. I have now got 100 degree bend in my leg, I know how to walk and I am beginning to gain normality again!
My TOP SURGERY TIP is to make sure that you do as many exercises as you can per day. Try to push yourself, but not too much. It will help in the long run and that is one of the things that I regret not doing, as I would be more mobile than I am now if I had started doing my exercises sooner.
I am stronger than cancer, I am a cancer survivor!
Grace, 14, osteosarcoma