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It's amazing to talk to people who just get it

Emma's story

Emma Bottoms

I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – ALL for short – in October 2015. It’s a fast-growing type of leukaemia that needs treatment straight away.

I had nine months of intensive chemotherapy, involving over 20 different chemotherapy and anti-sickness drugs. I then had two years of maintenance therapy with the aim of stopping the leukaemia coming back. It’s felt like a long journey at times, but I’m in remission now and doing really well.

How I’ve changed since my diagnosis

One thing I found difficult was letting go. I always like to be in control and make plans, and I’ve had to relinquish that because it’s been impossible to control any of this. I’ve often had to give myself a good talking to, to help me stay in the right frame of mind.

Now I feel like I’ve changed as an individual, my outlook has changed in some respects. I can’t really explain how, but I just find I’m less inclined to worry about the little things.

I've been empowered by the support around me

For the tough times, I was so lucky to have my partner and my mam around to support me. They would visit me daily when I was in hospital to make sure I was OK and help me do things because I’d lost a lot of weight and was very weak. I found it hard to accept help from my friends and family at first, but when I did, it felt like a weight had been lifted, making it easier to cope with everything else.

I’ve also had great support from the wonderful medical team at my hospital, particularly my CNS – my specialist nurse – who I could talk to if I was worried about anything. So if you’ve just been diagnosed and haven’t been told who your CNS is, ask for one!

How the Blood Cancer UK forum helped me

I’ve talked a lot about my experience and emotions since I was diagnosed. It's helped me to process how I'm feeling, and it's helped my friends and colleagues to understand things better.

Sometimes it can feel like you’re the only person in the world who is going through a blood cancer diagnosis. So chatting on the Blood Cancer UK forum has helped me appreciate that what I'm feeling is normal, and that I'm not alone. It's amazing to be able to talk to others who just get it, and might even have some tips to share.