This year, Rose is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon in support of Anthony Nolan. Along with many other members of #TeamAN, she has an incredible story to tell – and it all begins in 2013, when she was unexpectedly diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…
My lymphoma diagnosis
It was New Year’s Eve 2012. I was on my second or third glass of prosecco, and I noticed a pain in my lower back.
I’d been training for the Bath half-marathon, so I assumed that was the reason for the pain and the doctors told me it was just standard backache.
Four months later, in April 2013, the pain was still there, and it started to get worse. I realised that it was actually linked to whenever I drank alcohol. It was a good job I enjoyed a G&T, as it turned out the pain was one of the most uncommon symptoms of stage 4A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
My lymphoma treatment
I began treatment in June 2013 and started with six months’ chemotherapy – it was light, and I was working full-time. In September, a test showed that the area of Lymphoma in my back had disappeared, but other areas in my chest were not reacting to the treatment. So the doctors suggested some more intense chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant (using my own stem cells).
I was scared it would be painful, so I was surprised when the consultant said it was going to effectively be a blood transfusion. When you think of it, it’s weird, but I felt confident and reassured when they explained it!
When I was having my donation before the transplant, there were a couple of guys in the Apheresis unit donating for patients via Anthony Nolan. The donation process takes a few days, so I began speaking with the guys and heard the reasons why they were donating and I was able to learn more about Anthony Nolan.
After the transplant, the recovery period was long – I got out of hospital in February 2014, after 6 weeks in isolation. Day time TV was dull and fortunately work were really accommodating so I went back to work on a part-time basis at the start of April.
The biggest downside was feeling rubbish because my body changed as a result of the treatment. I started to gain confidence again when my hair grew back in the summer of 2014.
Following the transplant, there were a few bumps in the road which meant I needed 2 rounds of radiotherapy and another round of treatment for a year which was similar to a light chemotherapy, but in October 2016, I was finally given the all clear. January 2017 marks the three-year anniversary of my stem cell transplant and I’ve never felt better.
My London Marathon
As I received my own stem cells, I didn’t need the help of Anthony Nolan; however, I witnessed the work they carried out whilst I was in hospital. I met many amazing donors and patients who were getting the lifesaving treatment they required.
Seeing as they do such a good job, I thought I’d take on a little challenge of my own and run the London Marathon!
Training hasn’t been easy; I’m slightly behind due to flu at start of the year, and a twisted ankle. I got to the point 2-3 weeks ago where I started enjoying it more, and now I’m feeling fitter and more confident!
I’m excited about the day itself. Living close to the route means I have always watched the London Marathon, and cheered on the thousands of inspirational runners. This year, I’m looking forward to being the other side of the barriers and looking out for my friends and family who will be there on the day to support me.