Story Written In 2014

Hello, my name is Brooke, I’m 18 years old, I live in Redditch with my family and have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I wanted to share my story to help people understand more about the disease and raise funds to treat other patients like me.

It started back in August 2013. I was like any other teenager, loving life, studying hard and looking forward to my 18th birthday. That was all to take a very sudden backseat.

I started having stomach cramps on a regular basis. They were so severe that I ended up going to A & E at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and they kept giving me painkillers. Every time I ate spicy food I would have a reaction too and the doctors put this down to an allergy at first. I then started getting a persistent cough after I went to Reading festival and after many visits to A & E, I eventually had a blood test.

A haematology doctor then sat me down and told me I needed to go to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further tests.

I was scared. My family and I were in denial at first, we just couldn’t believe this was happening. When I saw the people at the hospital with no hair I had to walk out straight away. I loved my hair, it was everything to me and I didn’t want to face that I might lose it.

I had a test on my bone marrow and then Dr Paul Ferguson told me I had leukaemia. I knew vaguely what leukaemia was but didn’t realize how complicated our blood makeup is.

Suddenly this was very real. My family was understandably devastated. We were due to move house and the contracts were all signed and sealed. The estate agent rang my dad as he was sitting on my hospital bed and obviously he had to explain the sale couldn’t go ahead.

My friends were all really shocked and upset too and were really supportive. I thought about all the things I would be missing out on, holidays, parties even my exams!

I started treatment straight away and I spent my 18th birthday having chemotherapy. My family took me for a meal to celebrate but I was too ill to enjoy it. Unlike most people, it was not a birthday I will remember fondly.

My life was turned upside down by this disease. I couldn’t sit my year 13 exams or drive my car anymore; my focus was all on trying to get better.

The doctors and nurses who have treated me have been so supportive and I couldn’t have coped without them.

Dr Ferguson told us about a drug trial that I could be put on, made possible by the money raised by Cure Leukaemia. My parents were obviously nervous about it but my dad asked Dr Ferguson what he would do if it was his daughter and he said he would definitely agree to the trial.

The nurses have been such a support for not only me but also my family. They become your best friends and reassure you that everything will be ok. I couldn’t have got through this far without them.

I’ve made friends with other girls and boys at the hospital too. Pagan Goral, who’s story is also on this website, has been with me throughout and we have been a great support to each other. If I had a bad day she would be there to pick me up and vice versa.

My school friends have been so supportive too. They have all been to see me in hospital and they always give me a lift when I see them although when they’d tell me about looking forward to a pyjama day I’d laugh because those are the last thing I used to look forward to!

I spent many days at home watching Masterchef and Criminal Minds with my mum which is great but I always wanted to get out and about! Occasionally, when I was well enough, I would go with my mum and walk our two Westie Terriers. It made me realize all the things I used to take for granted, when you can’t do them anymore, you really notice it.

I have finished my latest period of chemotherapy treatment and am now under maintenance. This is great as my hair will grow back and I know that will give me a massive boost. I want to look forward now. A year from now I’d love to take my year 13 exams and start thinking about university.

Even before I was diagnosed with leukaemia I always wanted to be a nurse and this experience has only made me more determined to help other people!

I couldn’t have got to where I am now without the nurses and doctors who have helped me. Without Cure Leukaemia I know the treatment I have had would not have been available so I am so grateful to the charity.

My passion now is to help others. There are more people in the same position as me and we need to make sure they have access to these treatments.

Please help Cure Leukaemia is any way you can whether that is through a regular donation, attending the Club Legends Cup, running in the BUPA Great Birmingham Run or by holding your own event. Every penny raised goes to directly help people like me. Please do what you can to help Cure Leukaemia.

Thank you for reading my story. Brooke

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