Hi everyone, my name is Jess and I am a 26 year old art student from Sydney, NSW.
I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) just days after Christmas in 2005 while I was living and working (and travelling) in the UK. Of course it came as a shock but I'd been feeling so awful for days (I was found to have Pneumonia and Pleurisy first, which led to the discovery of the ALL) and I almost expected something was very wrong.
I coped suprisingly well for the first few months of horribly painful treatments and my boyfriend abandoning me because he "didn't sign up for this" - until a fungus in the air got into my lungs and soon travelled to my brain. Cerebral Aspergillosis ensued and while doctors were trying to treat the infection I was put into an induced coma. When they withdrew sedation after two weeks, and I wasn't waking up, doctors told my mother (who was in the UK already) to call any other relatives to come over because they gave me a less than 5% chance of survival.
I don't think I fought consciously, but perhaps instinctively. I spent 3 months in a neurorehabilitation hospital re-learning how to do everything - walk, talk, swallow, type...everything has had to be re-learned, the synapses in my brain having to be re-wired to obtain normal function. But there were people in that hospital who would never walk again, people who would spend the rest of their lives like that and I refused then and there to be broken like that!
Even now - I can do most things, but every now and then I have to remind myself to blink, take a breath - sometimes I even forget for a second, how to tie my shoelaces or which hand my watch goes on...until it clicks and I remember again.
It's been a very long and frustrating journey that I've had to walk alone, but it had to be walked. I am too stubborn to have just given up! I have a lot of medical 'repercussions' from my cancer and its treatment and sometimes the obstacles I still face seem insurmountable, but I can't see any other way to go so it's onwards and upwards for me now.
I hope to meet a lot of new people through this site and share experiences - to make new and lasting friendships.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.