“Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength – I saw this once on Instagram from another cancer patient, you must use what life throws at you to become the best person you can.”
Brontë was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma – a type of Leukemia, in Nov 2015. She has now successfully defeated her disease. She is now an artist and creates beautiful images.
“November 2015, I was in my final year of university and I got what I thought was a bad cold. This was misdiagnosed as a chest infection and I was given antibiotics. After a couple of days of only getting worse, chronic pain in my right side and back, vomiting, unable to eat, unable to breathe, my mum took me to A&E. I was admitted to the respiratory ward with what they thought was pneumonia but after a week in hospital, lots of tests, scans, X-rays and biopsy, it turned out t be collapsed lung from a mass (tumor) pressing against my lung. I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma, a type of leukemia.”
“My journey has been indescribable, truly traumatic. On Christmas Eve of 2015, whilst undergoing intensive chemotherapy, I had a stroke which caused me to have lots of terrifying seizures. I spent Christmas in the ICU (intensive care unit), unable to move. I lost the use of the right side of my body. I had to teach myself with a talented team of physiotherapists and doctors on how to move again. I was truly so ill, and it’s so scary to think about that time, I still have night traumas now and suffer from PTSD because of the vivid memories I have. My parents really were my angels they looked after me every single second, from helping me shower to shaving my head, to dressing me, to hold me whilst I cried.
Looking back at photos we took throughout treatment, it’s crazy to remember that it was me, not that long ago.
At the end of my intensive treatment, we put together a fundraiser for teenage cancer trust and click Sargent two charities that helped me throughout my journey and are still supporting me today with one to one support. We raised £5000 and my friends and family all came together to celebrate this as a great moment.
Living with cancer treatment for a prolonged period of time is a serious physical and mental strain and battle and everyone who has experienced it or is experiencing it will understand. Waking up knowing you are going to feel ill and you don’t know when it will end is a distressing thing. But I am living proof that you can make it through and it will get better.
I am only now coming out of the other side and reevaluating who I am and what I want to do with the life I’ve fought to keep. Somehow, after everything, life is still terrifying. But I am so glad I am here to experience it.”
Motivation to fight cancer
“My family mainly. My mum and dad and my boyfriend. My best friend who came and visited me every week. Even when I felt too ill to see anyone, she would turn up and just sit silently with me, mostly whilst I slept. My boyfriend too. They came and spent New Year’s Eve with me on the ward. We played games until my chemo finished and I started being sick. The people that were there for you at those moments are the only ones that truly understand you. Having my treatment in the teenage cancer trust wards in Bristol made such a difference to my state of mind. It became a safe haven for me and when they told me I had to leave, I cried for hours. My motivation was also the people around me and thinking about the future and what I wanted to do, it kept me striving for it.”
The biggest hindrance
“The stroke as previously mentioned, as it was a big setback and I had to have therapy because I was constantly having anxiety attacks of it happening again. I am now able to rationalize these thoughts when I have them. I was also admitted later in the year with a sinus infection which caused my face to swell completely on one side! I can look back and laugh at the photos now but the reality of the pain was awful.
On maintenance, I struggled with the steroids, as my body would swell, I would be red as a tomato, highly strung, light sensitivity, migraines, heightened sense of smell, hearing, and taste, depressive thoughts and a lot of crying. Being on these for two years started to get pretty draining and tiring on my body and mind. During the summer of 2017, I also got some sort of gastritis when my chemo dose was increased and for a couple of months, I was sick pretty much every day, and couldn’t eat and had gripping stomach pains. This again was not only physically exhausting but mentally too, especially, for a girl that loves her food and now had no desire for anything at all. Even smell would make me sick. ”
Message to other cancer patients
“Nurture your body with as much love as you can. Surround yourself with positive people who feed you good energy for your fight. Nurture your soul through mindfulness, yoga and walks in nature. Be outside in nature and let the flow of air and the trickling of a stream heal your heart. Rest your body as much as possible so it can heal, do not push yourself. Start doing art even if you are not artistic. Start a journal to capture your journey, and keep your mind busy whilst your body recovers. I embrace you all, I stand by you. Find the strength inside you that will drive you through to the other side wherever that may be.”