I’m Grateful I Have Another Day To Live And Fight

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in August 2020, at the age of 26. Finding out that I had cancer at such a young age was devastating, especially knowing that my mum passed away with breast cancer when I was 7 years old. My mum losing her life because of cancer gave me the fight to beat this and to be positive towards it and I was very lucky to have a supportive family and close friends there for me, right from the start.

I’ve never liked hospitals and knowing that I was going to have to have chemotherapy was very scary, however the consultants were confident I could beat this, as I was young and fit. Going for scans and blood tests all by myself during the pandemic was daunting.  However, when I look back and see how far I have come, it has made me tough and strong.

I had chemotherapy from October to late December of 2020 and it was a very tough journey, but I pulled through. I had a scan halfway through my treatment and I found out I was in early remission, which means the cancer was shrinking in my body and I was responding well from it. This was a great moment!

However, two months after finishing all my chemotherapy, I had another scan and found out that I had relapsed. It was devastating.

The consultant told me that because I had relapsed I needed to have a bone marrow transplant, as well as more chemotherapy before actually having the transplant itself. Nevertheless, like I said before, I was doing this for my mum and I’ve always had a positive mindset towards anything that I face.

This was all happening in the middle of Covid-19 and I had to stay away from people and places. This isolation was tough, but I had such a good family and friends around me to pull me through. I knew there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

Starting another type of chemotherapy was tough as it was a stronger type of chemo, but I battled through and a few months later, I found out that the cancer was shrinking again.

However, the cancer hadn’t all gone, so I was advised to start a chemotherapy drug through a clinical trial. Having all of these chemicals going into my body was scary, but I just keep the mindset of ‘it will make me better at the end.’  This was the main thing that really pulled me through, just having a positive mindset towards everything I faced. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I would get there in the end.

Almost a year after my diagnosis, I found out I was in a partial remission.  This was great news as I was only eligible to have the transplant when I was in remission. Knowing that I was able to start the transplant was great news.  The aim of the bone marrow transplant was basically to kill all my white blood cells and any bad cancer cells in my body and restart with new white blood cells which were collected before starting the bone marrow transplant from myself.

Having a transplant was the toughest part of my whole journey. Just being in hospital, experiencing so many side-effects and just feeling unwell.

Nevertheless, I pulled through and the greatest thing about it all is that I now have two birthdays! November 3rd 2021 was the day I received back my healthy white blood cells and was a brand-new baby!

The story doesn’t end there though, because after recovering in hospital, just a week after I got back home, I caught Covid-19.  It was really scary because I knew my body was at it’s weakest point and my immune system was so low. But I pulled through as I kept my positive mindset.

During my hospital stay, my consultant had mentioned I would have a higher chance of staying in remission after my transplant by having a top up of more chemotherapy. It felt like I was on a journey that was never going to end! However, I was all for having it, if it meant I had a better chance of staying in remission and not relapsing. So, a month after my second birthday (November 3rd) I started chemotherapy again.

This chemotherapy was one of the toughest ones I had to have as the side effects were brutal.  My consultant told me to try and have as many cycles of it as possible and I was able to have four cycles in total. I then had a scan and I was still in remission which was great news to start 2022.

Throughout my journey I’ve been lucky to have support from Move Charity, supporting me with my exercise, which helped me so much and I’m very thankful for that. Big shout out to Helen who called me every week to check on my progression and how I was doing. And another thanks to Malcolm Whales for the resistance bands which  helped me a lot to get my strength back.

My fight with cancer will be with me for my whole life as I am at a higher risk of getting other cancers and relapsing. But the main thing I have gained and learnt throughout this journey of mine is that I’m grateful that I have another day to live and fight. All thanks to God.

 

Written by Abdou Njie

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