Nicola's Story

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

It was summer 1983, the era of roller boots and permed hair! Portrush was the place for the family holiday and I was 15 years of age, what else could be more perfect?

I had taken my roller boots with me to the caravan and like all true Northern Ireland summers it rained! However, when the sun came out so did I!  Whilst skating round the park I stepped off the road on to a grass verge to let a car pass and I twisted my right ankle – nothing too serious or was it. Within a couple of days I could not put my foot to the floor and was walking on tip toes. 
 
My dad took me to the hospital to have it looked at and the hospital decided that it was too swollen, probably internal swelling so I was sent home to come back after the weekend – and so it began.
 
On our return to the hospital I was admitted, sent for x-rays, scans and a biopsy. The results were in – I had cancer – a synovial sarcoma tumour on my ankle bone, only several days after they had carried out the biopsy the tumour had travelled from my ankle to my knee. There was no option but the leg had to come off. My father told me I was going to loose my leg on a Thursday and the leg came off on Friday – there was no choice, no options.    My dad was the one that had to sign the consent form – what was worse the operation was planned for the next day – his 40th birthday. The impact of cancer is just not about the person who has it - but about a family, a community.
 
Following surgery I had chemotherapy every three weeks for nine months, it certainly was worse than the actual amputation. I lost every hair on my body – any woman will understand that apart from loosing the hair on your head – which is traumatic, anywhere else can be advantageous!!
 
Fast forward to 2010 - I am now 42 years of age. I work within healthcare as the Guideline & Audit Manager (GAIN) and I thank God, live a full and rewarding life.
 
What am I telling you – life can be deemed as cruel, some people feel they will never get over certain circumstances within their lives, but life is not about what has happened to you or the poor me syndrome, it is about what you have done with it. Abraham Lincoln once said “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years” Cancer does not mean death all the time, you can go on and live a full and active life, your circumstances may change but at least you’re alive.
 
Nicola