When I finished work for the week and travelled to Wangaratta for my friend's wedding, I thought I was going just for a cheeky long weekend. Instead I was leaving life as I knew it behind.
Following a night of trying to dance through severe back pain and an unofficial diagnosis of "Leukaemia or Lymphoma, we were not sure which one", I was officially diagnosed with a mix of Acute Myloid Leukaemia and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia on March 7, 2016 at The Alfred hospital. At 25, Leukaemia diagnosis was not something I thought I was about to face and rudely interrupted some big plans I had for 2016.
For the next six months, I called the walls of 7 East at The Alfred home for more nights than my actual house, as I undertook a mix of chemotherapy, radiation and a Bone Marrow Transplant, thanks to an unrelated donor.
Although a very frightening time in my life, looking back at my time on 7 East makes me smile, as around my treatment I had some good times. The team who work on the ward are amazing people. As well as administering your medication, they were there to tuck you in, wake you up, entertain you when you couldn't sleep and comfort you when it all got too tough and all you could do was cry.
I was lucky enough to have my own room for the majority of my first stay, which lasted about a month. This was great as a procession of friends and family came in to visit, cheer me up and I think comfort themselves that deep down I was still me. I was also lucky enough to share a room with some amazing women, who ranged from 18, 35 and even 90, all of whom inspired me in different ways. The relationships with the younger two of these ladies have helped me navigate this part of my life a little easier.
When I was told about the plan to create Young Adult Areas with the funds raised this Dry July, I knew I wanted to help. Having been a young adult in the 7 East world, I think this area will be extremely important for those still to come. My hope is for them to create a space for the "younger" patients to be able to comfortably spend time with the friends from the outside that are supporting them through this journey, but also to help foster the new and incredibly important friendships they will make.
Currently, I am still receiving treatment. After a promising start post-transplant, my world was turned upside down in October when I relapsed. My treatment is different this time as the first patient on a world first trial, consisting of a mix of 14 injections to the stomach and tablets, all done as an outpatient. My trial is to last 24 cycles of 28 days and I am currently seven cycles in. Thankfully it is working and I am in remission again.