top of page

Cancer and Covid

Updated: Jun 22

Two of the most discussed topics within the public today, Cancer and Covid. Whilst most of us are learning to live with covid and its effects, some of us may not know much about cancer, the different types, or those that affect certain age brackets.

In this blog, I want to share with you my story, of my Blood Cancer (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma),being diagnosed, and having treatment during covid.

Leading up to August 2020, life had been somewhat normal. As a country we had already been through our first Lockdown, on the 3rd August the government set out its Eat Out to Help Out scheme meaning families could enjoy going out and we were actively being enticed to eat out and socialise. I have many photos of this time of our family spending more time together and being happy to see each other again. I felt healthy and normal with no obvious signs of cancer and started to enjoy life living in Bristol as we had recently moved from Somerset.

Cancer, covid, nails and business. Nail salons near me. BBC radio Bristol. Family
Cancer, covid, nails and business.

It was in late August 2022 that I went to the South Bristol walk in center for a pain in my arm which wasn’t related to the lump in my neck which the nurse discovered moments later. I’d like to find the nurse that saw me that day, and thank her for pretty much saving my life, If she hadn’t noticed the lump on my neck I wouldn’t be here today.

Hodgkins lymphoma cancer
Hodgkins lymphoma cancer

The lump in my neck transpired to be enlarged lymph nodes and I was quickly rushed through Ultrasound scans and biopsies to try and determine exactly what was causing this. I will never forget the moment that I asked the team doing the ultrasound if it was cancer, of course they can’t say yes or no, but what they did say was it wasn’t filled with fluid and i just knew, at that point I was thinking and expecting the worst.

From there on I had lots of scans and consultation meetings, everyone who has to wait for their scan results will say its the longest weeks of their life and the mental turmoil you go through is exhausting.

In September 2020 I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

Having the Picc line put in.

The scan results showed I had enlarged lymph nodes in my neck, under both armpits, in my Esophagus, around my heart, at the bottom of my lungs, and in my bone marrow. By this time, I had already started preparing for Chemotherapy. A lot changes during Chemo, simple things like you can’t have any dental work carried out because of the infection risk, so beforehand I had to have teeth taken out that could have caused issues during my Chemo. You are also given the option to freeze your eggs as there’s an increased risk that Chemotherapy can make you infertile, this itself is a daunting prospect especially at the age of 29. Luckily I already have two amazing children, and so I decided not to freeze my eggs, I also wanted to start Chemotherapy as soon as possible as being stage 4 already, time was not on my side.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

When it was time to shave my head, I wanted to be in control of my hair falling out and how I looked, as I had very little control over my body changing due to the Chemotherapy. The kids watched my now husband shave my hair, my daughter gasped and my son just cried and said “You don’t look like my mummy anymore”, to hear that was one of the hardest parts of our journey.

I then went to have a picc line put in my arm, for the drugs to go direct into my body, I’ve worked in care and hospitals beforehand so needles and operations don’t worry me. The plan was for 6 months of ABVD, each letter stands for the name of a drug, so 4 different drugs, every 2 weeks for 6 months, 12 rounds altogether. My first Chemotherapy didn’t go to plan, it made me very sick and I ended up back in hospital that evening to relieve the sickness and pain. With all future Chemo treatments throughout the 6 months I had to have an special anti sickness tablet which needed an hour to work, before any drugs entered my system.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

I remember arriving at the Chemo suite strong and feeling good but walking out feeling tired and sick, it was a very surreal sensation because you think of hospitals making you better, but each time I left I felt gradually worse. The drugs they give you kill the cancer, but at the same time it also kills everything else from blood cells to nose hair.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

The Limbo arm covering that I had to wear for 6 months when having a shower or bath. The next few months of chemotherapy went well. I made cakes for the nurses, and kept myself busy during the day by planting flower seeds. This helped keep me occupied and gave me something to nourish and I could watch the flowers grow over time.

The family had to put up with plants everywhere. Cupcakes for the nurses, baking helped me keep busy and my mind occupied.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

It was only until the later stages of Chemotherapy that I began to get weaker and sicker. The nurses and team prepare you for this, but you don’t fully understand until it happens. For the final 2 rounds of Chemotherapy we decided to reduce the drugs, Up until then I’d had a fairly positive reaction to the Chemotherapy apart from the sickness and following another scan, the lymph nodes were decreasing in size. I had then started to lose sensation in my hands and feet this is known as Neuropathy and is where the drugs damaged the nerves, It’s a known side effect of Chemo. As a result of this, I couldn’t climb the stairs, struggled to eat with a knife and fork, had to have help getting in and out of the shower as I couldn’t lift my legs, and eventually we moved the bed downstairs so it was easier. My Husband soon became my carer after just 2 years of knowing me. I’ll be honest I can’t remember much of that time, as I slept a lot of it. He became a dad to my kids and a carer overnight and I can’t thank him enough. We used to joke about how I would be the one pushing him in a wheelchair next.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

I tried to document and take photos wherever I could so that I could look back and remember how far I’ve come and to always be grateful for being alive, and the strong I was able to muster during this time both mental and physical.

During my last Chemotherapy, I unfortunately had a mini stroke, which was my most frightening moments , the doctors said it happened because of the stress my body was under. Whilst undergoing chemotherapy, I also went through a divorce that included a long, drawn out battle for custody of my son, we we’re having to travel to Bridgwater to take my son to school 5 days a week as the judge ruled he must stay at his original school until the outcome of the custody case. That was tough enough in itself without having cancer and a global pandemic. My body started to shut down from being too tired. The last few months of chemotherapy was the hardest, I’ll be totally honest and I’m not saying this to frighten anyone as everyone is affected differently while undergoing Chemotherapy. I strongly believe that my stubbornness and sheer determination to stay alive for my family and kids kept me going, but of course there were times where I cried and thought, “I’m not sure if I’m going to wake up the next day”.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

The morning after my last chemotheraphy. My Picc Line was taken out the night before, and I remember my son being so happy that he could finally hug me without fear of hurting me.

Only a couple of weeks after finishing Chemotherapy, I was determined to walk and cycle my kids to school, I wanted life to get back to normal again as quickly as possible for them. The first time I got on a bike, I put my foot down ro steady, went over on my ankle and broke my leg in two places. I remember lying on the payment screaming in pain but also in sheer frustration. This had now set my recovery back by months, and had no strength to use crutches so went back to being in a wheelchair again. I couldn’t have surgery to reposition my bones, as I was known as neutropenic, I had no white blood cells to fight off infection, so I had to rest in bed and not move it. Once again my Husband came to the rescue, he built ramps around the house so I could at least wheel myself from one room to the next.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

Since finishing chemo and breaking my leg, I’ve had further tests and scans which revealed that I am in remission which is the most amazing news we could have hoped for. But as my cancer was so aggressive I’m monitored every 3 months to be safe. This also means that the slightest itch or lump found and I’m worrying, It’ll always be at the back of my mind and just because my physical health is back on track it still affects me mentally. It’s something that many cancer survivors have to face and learn to live with. I am, as strange as this may sound, thankful for having cancer. Cancer changed my life for the better in the long term, I now wake up everyday thankful for small things, being able to walk, being able to drive, being strong enough to walk up the stairs, not feeling sick on a daily basis. I have the most amazing kids and husband and because of him, his unconditional love and support I know I can overcome anything, we finally tied the knot in San Diego on June 3rd 2022.

Nail salon. BBC Radio Bristol, nail salon. Nail shop. Cancer, covid. Manicure

Having cancer for anyone is hard and tests the strongest of people, but having cancer during a pandemic, when your cant have your loved ones near, your husband can’t be with you and hold your hand, you family can’t visit and most services had stopped because of social distancing, that was the hardest. But It also helped me, people were careful and wore masks to stop the spread of germs that could kill someone with a low immune system. Everyone was at home because of the lockdown so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. If you're reading this blog and on a journey with your health, just remember you are strong enough, you can beat cancer, look forward to the normal little things. Take each day step by step and just keep fighting. Its normal to feel depressed, low and like you want give up. But don’t. Keep going because you’ve got this!

I want to also thank Lymphoma Action group (fb) who’s members have supported me throughout. The Macmillan team who do so much more than anyone realises, if you can donate to Macmillan please do.

My flowers in full bloom after a year of cancer, but also a year to tend to them! We now live life to its fullest, everyday. I had the amazing opportunity of flying a plane, visiting Scotland, and travelling to America. Don’t forget to be grateful for the smallest of things and don’t take things for granted! Life could change tomorrow! If your worried about excessive itching, a lump or night sweats which are signs of Lymphoma please go to your doctor! Did you know? Lymphoma mainly affects those aged 16 to 25, and is the 5th most common cancer. 1 in 10 cancer in children is lymphoma!

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page