The last six months has been crazy in every way imaginable.
I knew this was going to be the toughest time of my life so far, and I knew right from the off that I wanted to document the entire ‘journey’. Someone suggested keeping a diary so I have been taking photos along the way – but I also wanted to be able to remember exactly how I felt at the time. I wanted to read my story back, and be proud of myself, my family and my friends for coming out the other side.
To me, writing my experiences down was cathartic and gave me a huge sense of relief. Lots of people ask if I get upset reliving the period I got diagnosed, but I feel that writing everything down is a huge weight off my shoulders; the chance to box up the feelings, the emotions and move onto the next hurdle.
I wanted my blog to be honest, often brutally honest, expressing exactly how I felt at the time. My main aim was to help others, but I wanted it to be enjoyable and light-hearted at the same time because as depressing as the topic is, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom.
Some days I would start to write, and complete crappy, unpublishable words would appear on the screen. I wrote my first blog post and it was about seven pages long, and with the help of my editor, we managed to cut it down to four different posts with catchy titles.
For a while I was nervous about putting my story live for the whole world to see, but with some convincing, one Wednesday night I forgot about what people thought, and made my first blog post live. Initially, I wasn’t going to share it on social media, as I didn’t want people to think I was attention seeking; the whole point of it was to help others, I was just going to wait for my blog to be noticed.
But, I was persuaded to share my blog on social media by friends, and with their help and the power of the internet – I had over 10,000 views in under 3 hours. I couldn’t believe it and just couldn’t make sense of it. My phone was going crazy with alerts and messages from people sharing the blog or saying how much they had enjoyed the first post. People were saying how inspiring I was, others didn’t realise I had been so ill. I felt instant relief that it wasn’t a total flop and that people had actually enjoyed reading it: I was totally overwhelmed.
Ever since that first night, people have been continually supportive about the blog. People come up to me on the street to tell me they’ve read the blog. I notice people staring at me when I’m out. The writing itself has been hugely rewarding but I never anticipated the kind words of others – the encouragement of (quite often) strangers, gave me an immense boost and the strength to continue.
After a couple of weeks, the (Welsh) media had heard of my blog and I was receiving emails galore asking for phone, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. Ever since the first email, my story has appeared in local and national magazines and newspapers and I have even been on the radio, where I forced my friends to come too – naturally it was hilarious and we spoke more about eating cakes than cancer.
However, I decided that if I was to feature in any form of media, it would be on my own terms – to advertise the blog or the Little Princess Trust and raise awareness of Lymphoma. Most of all though, I wanted my story and voice to be heard in order to help any other person going through the same as me, to give them a boost, hope and the confidence to go on.