Young patient Thomas Ashley has been detailing his blood cancer journey and battle against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) following his diagnosis aged just fifteen as part of an online blog in association with Cure Leukaemia, and we bring you the latest edition that details his relapse from the disease:

I started my chemotherapy in April and was in hospital for around 5-6 weeks. It was very similar to the first time. Not much difference. I was maybe more ill because of the stronger chemo. But everything that went on in the hospital was second nature to me as it was my ‘normal’. The things you see and hear in hospital, which would shock most people, just happen and you get on with it. You have to live with it.

The biggest difference was my mental health. Seeing everyone going on about their lives, developing, growing up, having fun. Being a ‘normal’ person, and knowing what I was missing out on. And I didn’t touch on this the first time, but the way you look. Knowing you are changing. Losing weight, putting on weight, no hair. That’s stayed with me since then. I struggle with how I look today because of my time in hospital and my cancer. I think all of it has stayed with me. I am just unearthing it now, when I need to.

One particular time that I struggle to live with from my time in hospital is when I spoke to this other boy, Sanjay. He was a year or two above me in his first year of university. I had been in for a couple weeks already before he came in. There was one time we were both just in the ‘living room’ together. (We were on a young person unit for 18–24 year olds). Sanjay hadn’t had any treatment before or a previous diagnosis. He needed an immediate transplant. And having had gone through a diagnosis and treatment before, I remember telling him some words of reassurance, from someone with experience.

I specifically remember telling him that everything will be alright. I didn’t sugar coat anything, I told him the truth and only the truth. I told him that it will be the worst time of his life, you will hate it but ultimately, you’ll get through it and be a better person on the other side. I thought what I was doing was the right thing, to help someone out. But Sanjay died, about a year later. I lied to him. Sanjay didn’t make it. I told him he would and he didn’t. I lied to him and now he’s not here. And I carry that burden with me. I specifically told him; you’ll be fine and get through this. But now I am here alive and he’s not. I struggle to live with this. I lied to someone and now they are dead. I gave them false hope. And I am sorry Sanjay, sorry it was you, not me.


We will be posting weekly editions of Thomas’s blog on our website. Head over to our Candid with Cancer blog to read the full blog