Hi, my name’s Liam. I attend Treorchy Comprehensive School and I’m just getting ready to start my last year of GCSE’s! Just before my 15th birthday on the 29th of June 2014, I was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). However, this type of leukemia is extremely rare in children, teenagers and people under the age of 67.
In the whole of the UK there are only two cases of CML in a person under the age of 67. One of those cases is me and the other is a little, four-year-old girl from somewhere in England. So, that basically means me and her are a trial for the doctors treating us because we have an obvious longer life expectancy than the average CML sufferer. As a result we are being treated with the same treatment that everyone else with CML gets treated with but we will need to be monitored very closely because they don’t know how we will respond to the treatment in years to come.
Many people have asked the question how I found out about me having CML and, well, the answer to that is – my mother noticed I was losing a huge amount of weight and I was getting skinnier and skinnier. She also noticed I was going to the loo a lot more, not only to urinate but I was emptying my bowels around 3-4 times a day and I was getting really fatigued and constantly felt the need to lay about or sleep. So, my mother being a typical mother panicked and had me an appointment with my GP straight away.
We mentioned all these things we had noticed and he decided to weigh me; he didn’t seem very happy with my weight and then he wanted to examine my tummy area and whilst doing so he noticed that my spleen and liver were dangerously and severely enlarged! He then asked me to book an emergency blood test for the next day so at 9am the following morning back to the surgery I went, I then had my bloods taken and was sent home. I stayed home from school that day as the early wake up meant I was really really tired so I had a sleep for a few hours and woke up in time for my evening meal at around 3:30. As time went by, after having food etc, around 4 o’clock my mother had a phone call from the GP to say I had some type of leukemia and I had to get it treated ASAP. So, me and my parents hopped in the car ready for an hour drive from Treorchy to Cardiff University Hospital.
When I got there I was sent to a teenage cancer trust ward which is a special ward designed for teenagers with all types of cancer. It was the best ward I have ever been on. The doctors and nurses were all so nice, they rushed the test they needed to do and within two days of being there they had my results and I started treatment the same day! So for the moment all my treatment is: a little tablet I take every morning. This tablet is called imatinib and it is said to be a miracle tablet and is used for many types of cancers.
Thankfully I don’t need to have a line in my chest or anything but I do need to go back and forth the hospital quite regularly for blood tests and every three months I need to have a procedure called a bone marrow biopsy which is where they take a sample of my bone marrow and check some things in it to see how it is making my blood cells react.
Before having CML, I was just your average teenage boy who liked to go out with mates, party and have a little drink with friends even though we shouldn’t because we’re not yet 18. I also worked hard in school and just done the same as any average teenager, but having CML has not changed me one bit. I’m continuing going out with mates and enjoying it and in September I will continue to work hard. Most people diagnosed with cancer feel worthless and helpless and don’t feel like themselves but with me it’s had the opposite effect and made me stronger and more motivated but it’s also taught me who and what matters in life – after this experience nothing will ever bring me down!
I’m a stronger person than I have ever been before and even though I should be doing more for myself I can’t help but to continue putting others before me. I am now hoping to go on and raise money and awareness for the Teenage Cancer Trust and I am looking for ways to do so at the moment, but in the mean time I would like to raise the profile of the Teenage Cancer Trust by getting as many people to support my Facebook page called ‘Liam’s Story‘.