Meet Ferdousi, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, aged 12

Meet Ferdousi, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, aged 12

Hi I’m Ferdousi. I’m 17 years old and studying A-levels at sixth form, with the aim to study primary teaching at University. Here is my story of battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, and how my sister saved my life. 

Before my diagnosis I was a very shy, reserved preteenager, but I loved spending time with my family – they mean the world to me.

It all started with gnawing arm pains. At first, we thought it was joint pains or a muscle pull, so my mum took me to A&E at Royal London Hospital and I was immediately admitted to the respiratory ward. A few days later I was in so much pain it felt like someone was constantly stabbing me. A doctor who was treating a patient opposite me, knew there was something seriously wrong, so she did a special white blood cell count.

On 30th September 2015, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) and a rare form of leukaemia, Philadelphia positive.

I was 12 years old when I was diagnosed. I was too old to be treated at Great Ormond Street, but too young to be treated at UCLH. So, the plan was to start my treatment at GOSH and continue it at UCLH.

The side effects were insufferable; I would feel sick and tired. At one stage the chemo affected a little lesion on parts of my brain, leaving me unable to walk, talk, swallow or use my right hand. Luckily, I had an amazing team of doctors, physios, and a great dietician, who fixed me back to normal.

Unfortunately, in December 2016 I relapsed. I was devastated and the medical team was shocked. I needed a bone marrow transplant, which was a very intense treatment. Luckily my sister was a match so she was my donor!

My sister, Rezwana was amazingly brave – it was extremely painful for her. She saved my life and I will never forget that and I love her.

During my transplant I was so terrified and anxious about what was going to happen and the side effects. Sometimes the chemo would give me weird mood swings, I would become emotional very quickly or moody all the time. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, so were my family. Throughout my journey my family were acting strong, when really they were as anxious as I was. 

I am grateful for Teens Unite as they helped me become more comfortable with meeting new people. They link you to others your age who know what you’re going through. I used to read all the stories on their website from other young people while I was on treatment; it made me feel at ease knowing I wasn't alone. 

Teens Unite have helped me forget the negatives of cancer and see the positives of it instead.  I’ve been able to take part in some amazing events and my favourite so far has been the ‘Look Good Feel Better’ beauty session. It made me feel so much better about myself and less insecure about how I looked post chemo. 

Cancer has made me a stronger person. It has changed me for the good.

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