Author: Azreen, 22, Teen, Ewings Sarcoma
At the point of having a PET scan, I was told they were looking for “live” cells. Perhaps my consultant didn’t have the heart to tell me she suspected cancer, her only words were "We don't yet know what we are dealing with."
Eventually, I was booked in for biopsies, bone scans and new MRI’s. Yet again, I was none the wiser. My little head was still hoping this was nothing but a bad infection, I didn’t even think to consider I could have cancer. I mean, how could I? I never smoked, I never drank alcohol, never did drugs, I wasn’t even overweight nor was there any history of cancer in my family. But a week later, I found myself at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore. I remember this day clearly. I was wheeled into a wide, busy ward, choked by the stench of sweat, bleach and anxiety.
Everyone here was either recovering from or awaiting surgery. I was starving (for any procedure under general aesthetic you need to be nil-by-mouth. I was heavily sedated for both my MRI and bone scan so that I could lie comfortably on my back. In the cold aesthetic room my parents held my hand. I was told to breathe normally as the heavy mask was lowered onto my face. A sweet smelling gas filled my lungs and I was weightless. Suddenly all pain was forgotten and all I wanted to do was laugh, so I did, I laughed and mumbled some incoherent nothings, and laughed again before drifting off, and waking up back in the ward a second later.
Then came results day. Was I nervous? Hell no! It’s not like I was expecting something serious… like cancer. I thought nothing of the tall, black, tinted glass building. It looked nothing like a hospital. I was introduced to Hannah, a very sweet and friendly Macmillan nurse, and Dr J Skinner. The man with the ever so dreadful job of telling a 19 year old that she has cancer, she can forget about her studies and dreams for now, because now she has to fight for her life.
Dr. Skinner: So having reviewed your scans, we now know you have a rare disease called Ewing's Sarcoma.
“Ok. So what is that?”
Dr Skinner: … it’s. [lowers voice] It’s a rare form of primary bone cancer.
If I could see the word cancer escape his lips I would see it as something fat, and blurry. Because that is how I heard it. Like a recording playing in slow motion, the word “cancer” was so hard to comprehend to the extent that I had to ask myself, what the hell is cancer?
No tears yet.
“Am I going to lose my hair?”
*cue the tears*
Anyone that knows me well enough knows that despite wearing a hijab, my hair was the feature I loved most about myself. The thought of losing my hair was more dreadful than the cancer itself.
Despite my tears, I wasn’t upset. “yeah right!”. No really, I wasn’t. I’m someone whose life is very much orientated around their religion. Even though the tears were flowing down my face I could hear the verses of surah Bakarah echoing in my head; “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” and it is true.
I composed myself pretty quickly once I received the news and looked to my parents who were evidently shaken. I was never truly upset. I was shocked but never for a second did I ask “why me?” I didn’t have the audacity to be angry at my Lord. I kept telling myself this is a trial, and if I don’t show patience and gain the reward from being tested, then what is the point of all the pain I went through.
The days following were a blur, but within a week I found myself in UCLH. When things get tough, you have two options; you can either pick yourself, be strong and fight, or you can cower away and curse your life. Choose strength. Choose to fight.
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