I’m deeply grateful to be able to enjoy what I hope will be a long and fulfilling life. I’m very lucky today to be living with 2003 as a very distant memory, and to be perfectly healthy now.
When I was in hospital I found it very di cult to see that I would ever have a normal life again. The treatment felt never ending and I couldn’t bring myself to really play with toys or enjoy the events that the wards had organised to help children feel happier. My mood would instantly change when I walked in and I would feel immediately sick. I understand now that I had mentally created a link between the hospital and feeling sick and I would feel sick before I had even started any chemotherapy. Time at home was so valuable and I loved to do anything that would help me forget that I was a cancer patient.
People today always ask if I remember much of my experience, being so young, and I absolutely do. I remember almost all of the days on the ward and in scanners and operations and I remember some very specific and very dark thoughts about myself and my life.
The one thing that kept me focusing on life outside cancer, was a board my Dad had made and on it was all the things I wanted to do when I was better. Mum and Dad said I could do anything I wanted. I chose to go to Florida and to get my ears pierced. Why I asked simply for my ears pierced, I have no idea! But those images on the board, which included my face on cut out figures from holiday magazines, became my hope and my focus. And the excitement and happiness
I experienced when I finally got to go to Florida – and with my ears pierced – was indescribable!
When my family and I went to ‘Give Kids the World Village’ in Florida I got completely lost in the magic and the fun and forgot about the pain and the sickness of being in hospital. The only word I can use to describe it was ‘magical’. The type of happiness I felt then when I transitioned from being in hospital to being on holiday, is not one I have felt since. I will always be grateful for that amazing trip and I can honestly say that without all of those experiences I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.
It’s now my goal, along with my family, to create something with the same magical power here in the UK. I want to help other children
to create such amazing memories and stories with their families in a special and safe environment. I want to transport children into their own world of imagination fun that will allow them to forget about life in hospital. I believe that my positive outlook and my ability to stay focused on still feeling normal in this traumatic period, helped me through the hardest time of my life and I passionately believe that we at the Kids Village can have a real impact now on families going through exactly the same thing today.
What followed was six months of chemotherapy and an operation to remove my left femur bone and knee joint and provide me with a metal replacement. I had to learn to walk again and spent six months on crutches. This was further complicated after I got chicken pox and had to spend a month in intensive care. During that month I lost nearly all of the muscle I had built and set about learning to walk again for the second time in my life.
From a young age I played cricket and during this difficult time, I was most concerned about never being able to play cricket again. I was told I would never run, jump or be able to take part in any strenuous activity. But for me my passion and desire for sport pulled me through and helped me defy the odds and get back to cricket again.
I’ve now been playing for the England Physical Disability cricket team for five years. We’ve travelled across the world and have been World Champions. I also play cricket in the 1st team of my local club. I refuse to let my disability and experience do anything other than enrich my life.
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my time in hospital on the inspiring ‘Teenage Cancer Trust’ ward. This ward felt like a home away from home and there was an atmosphere that allowed us to think about more than just cancer. It’s important to me to help other young people and families who are going through similar experiences. I know that the Kids Village will be a magical place for kids to enjoy time with their families around and to make memories and stories that matter.
We are passionate about what we do and that comes from our own personal stories and experiences. Every child and every family who have been through a hard time have amazing stories and we want to share these memories with you.