I was diagnosed with a type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), three and a half years ago. Since then it has been an emotional rollercoaster, however I’m now cancer free and planning on getting married this year.
My journey to diagnosis started when I was doing some work in the garden, I knelt down and hurt my leg. My leg swelled up and after a few days, the swelling had not gone away so I visited my GP. My doctor thought it was a blood clot, and sent me for a scan. The scan did not show anything out of the ordinary so I was referred to get a full blood test. Upon getting my results, it was clear something was abnormal in my liver. Within a week or two of full blood tests, I was referred to a specialist liver doctor who diagnosed me with Hepatitis C and HCC. At this time, it was just the one tumour they found.
While I was fortunate enough that, within two weeks – thanks to effective treatment – my Hepatitis C was untraceable, addressing the liver cancer was more challenging. I was prescribed medication and underwent a radiofrequency ablation procedure. During this appointment, two new tumours on my liver were identified, which then required further therapy, this time embolization. Treatment helped ensure my tumour number and size did not increase, meaning I met the clinical threshold for transplant surgery - my only potential chance of a ‘cure’.
I was lucky enough to be put on the transplant list and in February 2018, I received a call to tell me that there is a suitable liver for me. I was admitted into hospital, but woke up in ICU to hear that my donor liver had been given to another individual, who needed it more. I was devastated, scared and disheartened, I even considered coming off the transplant list. This was a particular low point and the ongoing support of my clinical nurses, who I’ve come to think of as friends, was instrumental in helping me through this.
On the 20th of May, I received another call to receive a transplant. The procedure went well, so well that I’m now HCC free, although it was at this point I discovered my old liver had four tumours, and a cluster tumour interacting with my blood supply – meaning that there is a one in three chance of my cancer returning. I’m now on medication for the rest of my life and scanned every 6 months to check if the cancer returns.
I’m very fortunate to have support from my immediate family and partner. We’re a lot closer after going through this experience. If I were to describe my story, I’d say it was an emotional rollercoaster that only has a happy ending because of pure luck. If I had not hurt my knee those three and a half years ago my doctors might not have caught my condition until it was too late. I feel like, I’ve been given another chance. I appreciate every single day and, for the first time in years, can plan ahead, to the extent that I’m getting married next year!
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