I won’t let more bad news stop me moving forward...
One minute I was racing across the basketball court, the next, the floor came rushing towards me. I landed on the floor with a thump.
‘You alright?’ asked my coach.
‘Yeah,’ I huffed. ‘Just landed funny.’
It was April 2017 and I shrugged it off. Only... Days later, my left knee became swollen and ached terribly. Not that I let it stop me. It was only when I kept losing my balance that my coach took me off the court.
‘You need to ice and rest that,’ she said.
Reluctantly, I agreed. My left leg felt heavy and tight. Nothing a good massage won’t fix.
I roped my boyfriend at the time into rubbing some oil into it, work out the knots.
He pressed his thumb into my upper calf on the first one but couldn’t budge it. I scheduled
a professional sports massage.
But he urged me to go to hospital.
I didn’t see what the fuss was all about, so I put it off. Until... One morning in May 2017, I tried to swing my legs out of bed but they were like jelly. I was pushing myself up but couldn’t move.
Panicking, I shouted for my mum, Angela, 47.
With her help, I was on the move, just.
But by mid-morning I was doubled over in agony.
It was the first Mum knew of my physical symptoms.
She drove me to the Royal Infirmary A&E in Edinburgh, where a doctor reckoned I had a build-up of fluid in my calf. He needed to drain it. Only, as he pulled the syringe, it filled with blood. What on earth?!
I was taken for an MRI and then ushered next door for the results.
I had osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that affects only 20 people a year.
I had to come to terms with it quickly. You see, at 16 in Scotland, you’re officially an adult – from now on, I was in charge of how I dealt with the cancer.
I had to say yes or no to treatments. Not my parents: me.
It was overwhelming. I felt too young to make these kind of decisions.
But with the support of Mum and my dad, Alan, 49, I began to wade through it all.
I said yes to ‘limb salvage’, meaning the diseased bone would be replaced with a metal rod.
It would give me the best chance of keeping my leg, hopefully play sports again one day.
But last September, my dreams were dashed.
The cancer had spread to my hip, abdomen, even my lungs. My only option, amputation. I didn’t want to lose my leg, fearing my identity would go with it, unable to do all the things I loved. But my life was now on the line.
I didn’t know what to do and turned to Mum and Dad.
‘What would you do?’ I’d asked.
‘If it saved my life, there would be no question,’ Dad replied. I nodded. On 20 December, I was wheeled to theatre for the amputation of my left leg.
When I woke up four hours later, with one leg gone, I felt strangely relieved.
All I wanted to do now was get up and moving, asked for physio the day after the op.
This was my life and I was going to take control.
Yes, I still needed chemo, but I’d be walking again as soon as possible with a prosthetic.
Sadly, in June I was told that the cancer had come back, this time in my pelvis.
It was gutting to hear, but I’m not going to let it stop me.
On 16 September, I’ll lead the Kiltwalk for charity and I’ll start chemo again shortly after.
Cancer may have knocked me back twice, but...
I’m still standing and I’ll keep pushing forward.
I was in charge of how I dealt with the cancer