My name is Ebony and this is my cancer journey...
"Even to this day the same thought runs to my head that did when I was first diagnosed; People like me don't get cancer."
I remember having the camp quality puppets coming to my primary school when I was younger, and while I listened I remember thinking that something like this would never happen to me, at least not at the age of 15. However it did.
I first noticed that something was wrong when I couldn't crack the knuckles on my right hand. It wasn't that it hurt or anything, I just couldn't physically do it. The problem eventually got worse to the stage that I couldn't write or use my hand properly. This was especially prominent when I was playing the violin. I had played the violin since the age of 8 and at the time I was playing in a youth orchestra.
"I first noticed that something wasn't normal when I was dropping my bow and there was nothing I couldn't do to stop it. It was a few days later that I realised something was seriously wrong."
We were having dinner and I brushed my hand against my plate and I realised that there was a lump. It was mainly swelling which I hadn't noticed until then, but there was a definite solid lump protruding between the bones on my right hand. I nagged Mum for a few days to take me to the doctor and we did end up going. Like most people who are eventually diagnosed with a tumour of some sort, I was told that it was just Tendonitis and to take a course of ibuprofen and return if it hadn't gone away.
The ibuprofen reduced the swelling around the tumour, and after a few days you could see a definite lump in my hand. We returned to the doctors and an ultrasound was booked. The results for that came back that it were solid muscle so I was told to go to the Women's and Children's hospital for an MRI. The results for that showed that it had blood supply and I was then referred to a plastic surgeon that would perform a biopsy. From there I realised things were getting pretty serious and they kept mentioning cancer and how I shouldn't be worried about it because they had never heard of someone getting cancer in their hand.
I had a biopsy a few days before I was due to go and see the band Rise Against with my then boyfriend; I had had the tickets booked for months. I remember waking up from surgery and it felt like my whole arm was on fire, I had never experienced pain like it. When I was properly awake and preparing to be discharged the surgeon came in to talk to me. I remember thinking that this was odd, and his normally happy disposition was replaced and he seemed distant and serious.
He said that it would be best if I didn't go to the concert because if it was cancer there was a risk that it may spread if things got too rowdy. I thought that this was really odd, because it seemed like he thought that something was seriously wrong. I had my review on the first day of Term 3 however this was a pupil free day so I didn't have to worry about missing any classes. I remember planning to meet with my friend Ally later that day at Tea Tree Plaza. One of the first things that I thought was weird was that I went through to my appointment even thought I was there half an hour early. He told me that the results from the biopsy said that it was Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.
"The first thing I did was blurt out 'Is it malignant?!" even though I hadn't even given him a chance to finish his sentence."
I wasn't sad or shocked when he said it was, more annoyed by the fact that I wouldn't get to go to TTP that afternoon.
Having cancer was definitely a life-changing experience, but I don't think that it was a negative one. It really annoys me sometimes that I've had to repeat year 11 and all my friends will move on at the end of this year when I'm still at school. The long term medical side effects also are pretty annoying because I really don't want to go through this ever again.
"However, I have met some amazing people and had some amazing opportunities because of it (such as working with SA Health)."
It has opened my eyes to a whole world of job opportunities, and I'm hoping to study Nuclear Medicine once I finish school, which I never would have known about if it wasn't for this."
It has also changed my outlook on life. I'm a much more positive and laid-back person because of what I've been through and am able to put things in perspective better. I have a much better balance of things now than I did before, and for some reason I am getting much better grades at school since finishing treatment.
"I think I just want people to know that even if you go through something as horrid as being diagnosed with cancer as a teenager, that you can make it through at the end."
You can make it a positive experience, even though you may not be able to see it while going through treatment. I wish anyone who is diagnosed with cancer the best of luck and good health while going through your cancer journey, and I hope you enjoy this website.