Meet Ben, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, aged 22

Meet Ben, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, aged 22

Hello my name is Ben, I’m 24 from Wales. Before my cancer diagnois I moved to Swindon to start fresh with my partner. I had recently come out as gay, moved away and started a new job.

I can remember I was having issues with my tonsils. I reached out to the GP who was telling me that I had tonsillitis and was told this for a few months, until I had enough and demanded to be seen in person, but giving it was covid times this was proving difficult. Eventually I was taken in and told I would have my tonsils out. This was on the Tuesday, and by the Thursday I was told I have Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a type of blood cancer. At this point I’m sure I was turning 22, I was numb and anxious giving this. I can remember the nurse asking me to give her a reaction because when I was told I didn’t react or seem to acknowledge it. 

Treatment has been difficult for me because I went to start a fresh life and had this knockback. Treatment has made me miss out on so much in life, and made me feel so behind compared to everyone else. I just can’t go and do things as my body doesn’t allow it. 

Cancer has impacted me quite a bit. It's also made me appreciate the finest and littlest things in life. I really did take a lot of things for granted. Friendships I’ve lost some but gained good ones too. I’d like to say I’m okay now, but I have another year or so of treatment left. Mentally I’m stuggling as mental health plays a big part in any cancer diagnosis. I struggle to talk about any issues and tend to build them up. I suffer with major fatigue, motivation, but mostly mental health. I struggle with saying how I feel. I always tend to be the people pleaser. 

I heard about Teens Unite as soon as I was diagnosed really as I was in the area. They supported me quite a lot with keeping me sane, keeping my mind busy, and mentally keeping me distracted from what I was going through. 

Teens unite have supported me in many ways, mentally and physically. I’ve recently attended an Activity Stay weekend which was one of the best holiday breaks I’ve been on. I did so many things which I would never normally do, and met so many people in the same position as me. I was in a space where I didn't feel judged and I got along with everyone. I also got involved in activities which I would never do on a day-to-day basis and I've done a lot of things out of my comfort zone. I didn't think I would enjoy them but I really did.

I find it important to be involved with a charity like this because not only do you have support from the people involved with the charity, but you also meet like minded people, again as I've said previously, who have been through the same journey as you. You can also go on activities and attend online get togethers with people who won't judge you because we've all been through the same.

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