Callum shares his experience of lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) and how he’s coped with diagnosis, treatment and life after cancer:
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month and September 15th also marks World Lymphoma Day, which raises awareness for cancers of the lymphatic system, including lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL).
Many people reading this may not even know what lymphoma is. Until three years ago,I was one of them, before I was unfortunately diagnosed with a rare type of cancer known as B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. For those of you that don’t know, lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. Together with other blood cancers like leukaemia, it’s the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and third biggest cancer killer overall.
In March 2015, I went from being a normal 22 year old university student who rarely got ill or went to the doctors, to everything changing suddenly overnight. I had to stop working and going to university. I’d spend weeks on end at a time in hospital, receiving chemotherapy and taking endless amounts of medication, as part of my treatment for beating this horrible disease.
I was fortunate enough to be treated in the dedicated Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) ward at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. Here I received incredible help, care and support from not only the staff, but also from other organisations like CLIC Sargent and Macmilllan Cancer Support.
I’m lucky that my treatment was successful and in December 2015 I received my all clear. Despite this unbelievably amazing news, I continued to receive maintenance chemotherapy treatment to stop the disease coming back. I finally finished in July of this year.
Coping With Cancer
Looking back, the most useful piece of advice I would have for coping with diagnosis and treatment is trying to maintain a positive frame of mind and focusing only on getting better. It would have been easy for me to say “why me?” and have a million negative thoughts. However, I found having a positive attitude and taking everything as it comes goes a very long way.
Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. But, my view was that it was something that I couldn’t change so there was no point getting down about it. It wasn’t going to help me get better. I just dealt with it the best I could and focused only on moving forward. I’d try focusing on looking ahead to the next treatment day, scan, or appointment. I’d look at this as a step in the right direction and another thing ‘ticked off the list’ on the way to beating my illness.
Another part of my successful treatment, which I’m extremely grateful for, was having such a strong group of family and friends around who were there for me every step of the way. I also had the opportunity to meet many other amazing people who were going through the same thing. Being in the TCT ward with people of a similar age going through similar treatment was a great help. It meant I had a support network of people to talk to, who understood EXACTLY what I was going through. I’ve definitely made friends for life with the people I met there.
Life After Cancer
I’m so thankful for all the help I’ve received from everyone, particularly from the Beatson and ‘Team Lymphomanics’ (a group of close friends and family who’ve taken part in regular fundraising events like the annual “Off The Beatson Track” 10km walk). Together, we’ve successfully managed to raise more than £10,000 over the last three years for the Beatson Cancer Charity. I see fundraising as a way to raise awareness of the brilliant work the Beatson do on a daily basis. Fundraising allows me to give back to the Beatson and other amazing cancer charities, to continue helping as many other people as possible fight and beat cancer.
Thanks for visiting. If you’d like to help Callum raise money for Beatson Cancer Charity, you can visit his JustGiving page here. (The Medsmart® Team)