Throughout Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, Thomas Ashley will be detailing his blood cancer journey and battle against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) following his diagnosis aged just fifteen.

Following on from my first blog, having been told I could have cancer, I was then moved onto a ward, until they got the results. We were waiting for ages, as you often do in hospitals. I remember telling my mum, that I hope I don’t have to stay the night. I hated staying the night in hospitals. Just everything about it. Little did I know what was to come. The nurse came in about 2am. She went on to tell me that they don’t have a specialist blood doctor in at the moment so we can’t give you the full results.

She then said that they think it is just Glandular Fever. So told me to come back around 11am the next day and we will give you a full diagnosis. To this day I still question this, whether they already knew what I had and just wanted me to enjoy the final night in my bed. To try and sleep in peace. The last time, the last night before my life changed forever. A change they knew would live with me forever. A change I would battle with forever. I guess I will never know. And I guess I was too young to know.

I came back the next day at 11am and was put in the same ward and all I could do was just wait. Just twiddle my thumbs, hoping that it wasn’t the bad news I was expecting. Hoping they would come in and tell me it was anything but cancer. Around 3pm a group of nurses and doctors came into the room. I think that’s when I knew, something wasn’t right here. I think I had already accepted that I had cancer. Just by everything else that had gone on. That’s when they told me I had blood cancer.

I didn’t have a reaction. Just sat there, on this hospital bed, in silence and the occasional nod to say I understood. I don’t know if it was shock or that I just had to be strong for my mum. That I had to show her that ‘I’ll get through this’. I had to give her hope. I don’t know and I don’t think I will ever know. I didn’t know how I was supposed to react because no one is ever taught how to be told you have cancer.

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My mum broke down. As you would. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like, hearing your child has cancer and that there is nothing physically you can do but trust the doctors and nurses. That was probably harder to see than actually being diagnosed. Makes you more worried. The doctors and nurses reassured me and my mum, that there is treatment which will start straight away and the odds for survival are pretty high due to the research that’s gone into blood cancer and my age. We knew we were in good hands but that doesn’t make it easier.

At this point, my mum had to go out the room to make calls as my dad was in Spain and two of my siblings were at school. I was left with a couple of nurses in the room. And that was when reality started to kick in and I broke down. I didn’t want to cry in front of my mum, or family, because I wanted to show them I was strong and that I will get through this. That I wasn’t going to die. Even though I didn’t know what was going on. And I didn’t know I was going to survive.

There are thousands of questions, I guess I had but never asked because I was too young to comprehend and I was scared. Scared of what was going on, what was going to happen and scared that I’m going to die. You always see cancer but you never think it could actually happen to you. You just don’t think it could. And instead of accepting it and coming to terms with it, you block it out. You don’t want to believe it, so instead of facing it, you run from it. And though I didn’t have a choice otherwise I would die, I ran and have continued to run from it for a very long time. To run from what I have been through. Block it all out. Ignore it. But it catches up with you.


We will be posting weekly editions of Thomas’s blog on our website. Head over to our Blood Cancer Awareness Month Hub to read the full blog