My name is Sarah and this is my cancer journey...
It took 18 months to be diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma and this is my journey. I caught a cold it was the worst I have ever had, I felt really horrible and then the pain started. Initially I thought it was a sprain from sport or surfing so I went to the physio. They were treating me for an inflammation of the disc and assumed it was from falling.
As the tumour grew the surrounding muscles started to spasm. I later developed sciatica as the nerves were being crushed and the treatment continued.
The pain was intense but I continued with school. Occasionally the pain was that bad I just lay on the floor at home. It was annoyed that people didn’t understand how much pain I was in and I never realised something could hurt this much.
"When they told me that I had cancer, straight away I was like ‘lets go, c’mon lets get this done."
It was full on having been thrown into such an unfamiliar medical environment. Being relatively healthy, I hadn’t even broken a bone before so it was a definite eye opener and took a while to get used to. There are a lot of new things to learn about and incorporate into everyday life.
In December 2008, I started chemo at the Women's and Children's Hospital and later had surgery on my back. Because my treatment was so demanding, I slept…a lot. If it wasn’t for the nurses checking on me I would have slept for 24 hours easily. And I am not going to lie, hospitals can be pretty boring.
After a few weeks without my hair falling out I thought ‘mmm, this might be all right’ and I wouldn’t lose it. My hair stayed there for a while but then the inevitable happened. Its weird being able to pull your hair out and it not hurting because the follicles temporarily shut down, it all happened quickly.
Some of the side effects during treatment concerned me at times. Being fit and healthy beforehand, I found it hard being pumped full of concoctions and having those things in my body.
"It's odd having to go through something so horrible in order to recover and get better."
I am not opposed to other therapies just as long as they are beneficial and are not interfering with the medical treatment. It is important to look after the rest of your body and health. It's harsh treatment and when you look after yourself it helps you to heal, recover and feel better.
"I found remedial massages, acupuncture and yoga helped me and feel fitter and feeling good."
It took a while for the chemo to wear off, some people don’t think there is a such a thing called chemo brain but it was real for me. I couldn’t think straight and would easily forget things so I took that year off school. I went back to do year 12 a year later and it was really hard getting back into the swing of things. I really had to put effort into things that I would normally have to but...
"I have learned whatever I do, if I persevere and I have the ability to succeed and often surprise myself with what I can achieve."
After each treatment had finished it felt great to be able to go outside, get home and sleep in my own bed. There is that moment when you walk outside of the hospital and go yes! I get to go home. Even though I felt nauseous and sometimes threw up during the car ride home, but don’t worry it was in a sick bag.
"Cancer doesn’t control my life, if it gets worse I will deal with it when it comes. In the meantime, I am not stressing myself out as what’s the point of that."
Yes, it affected my body and experiences but it has also enabled me to learn, develop and become a better person. It is horrible but it has also given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have encountered, so for me its really a 50/50 thing.
"I deal with the punches as they come."
When I think about it, it really surprises me what I can do and achieve, now I remember when I have problems or am in pain I know that they are only temporary and I can get through them.