Andrew from Wales | Youth Cancer Trust

My name is Andrew and I am from Wales…

My story starts long before I was diagnosed. At first I was getting really bad headaches, my hands were shaking uncontrollably and I had no control of my walking speed when I was walking downhill.

andrewWhen I went to the doctor to see if they could diagnose me, they were very dismissive. They put my shakes down to my asthma pump, my headaches down to stress and the walking down to a growth spurt.

However they did get me to see someone at my local hospital, but the next available appointment was in eight months, so my mother hatched up a plan.

A few weeks later, I started my final year of school (Sept 2006) but my symptoms were getting worse. The following Saturday my mother decided to take me to my local A&E dept. She made up a story that I fell down the stairs so they would take her seriously. They had no idea what was going on so they kept me in. The following Monday I was transferred to the University Hospital of Wales where again they had no idea what was going on. They let me go home with an appointment scheduled the next week where they put me through several CT scans. After about a week of not knowing, they decided to give me an MRI scan, but I had to be sedated because of my shakes. When I woke up after the scan, I saw my parents sitting on chairs by my bed looking grim. Later that day, an oncologist came up and took me to his office, and told me that I had cancer. Even at that point they didn`t know whether I was going to survive, but they told me that I was going to have an emergency operation in three days time. After the operation, they told me when I woke up that if I`d waited at another three weeks more to see someone, I wouldn`t have survived. All of the symptoms I described earlier were caused by a build-up of spinal fluid in my head which was caused by the tumour. I was in hospital for another week and a half until I finally went home.

About two years later, I finally reached the top of the waiting list to go to a residential physiotherapy hospital where I spent a week learning to walk again.

After everything that had happened, I thought I was through the worst of it, I was wrong. On the 18 April 2011, I collapsed in my room having a fit. Luckily my mother came up and saw me lying on the floor unconscious,she managed to wake me up and get me to my feet. When I got up I was acting as if I was drunk and couldn`t remember what had happened. She told me that if I was tired I should go back to sleep, but she could see that I wasn`t myself. She immediately phoned a nurse at the hospital who proceeded to tell her to bring me in. I went into the hospital that day and they could see that something was very wrong. They contacted my oncologist who came to see me at the newly built TCT unit at Cardiff and she wanted me to receive another MRI scan – I had one scheduled the following Thursday.

Andrew-2When my oncologist saw the scan, she saw a massive- looking tumour in my head and once again, I had another operation to remove it. While they were in my head (so to speak) they saw that the drain they had put in from my first op to drain the fluid was infected, so they decided to remove it a few days later. When they managed to get to the tumour, what they found was a blood clot instead of a tumour. They removed the clot and inserted a shunt to drain the fluid.

I later spent ten weeks learning to walk…. (again)

In April 2013, I was invited to go to the YCT in Bournemouth, where I met some incredible people and had the experience of a lifetime. Since all this has happened, I have finished my University course and am competing in many competitions to try and get one of my scripts made into a short film.

I may have had some of the worst experiences that most of my school friends will never have to hopefully ever experience, but I`ve gained so much more. I`ve met some of the most incredible people that I would never have met without all of the dreadful things I have experienced.