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In memory of Taylor.

"I was 11 when it started. First I had headaches and then I was vomiting regularly, at least twice a week. It was about the third week of headaches and vomiting that my parents took me to our doctor. He said nothing was physically wrong with me and so gave me pills and sent me home.  Another doctor’s visit a few days later saw no improvements.

Whatever was wrong with me, it was getting worse so my parents decided to take me to the city doctors who did a few tests to which they then recommended I needed to go to the hospital in Palmerston North for more.

Arriving at the hospital was a welcome sight, but meant more tests and scans. I had no idea what was going on. I waited with my Dad for the results. The doctor said that I had a cancerous brain tumour. I was confused and didn’t understand what it meant but seeing my Dad cry, which was a rare sight, I knew this wasn’t good news.

I was only 11 when I was diagnosed and so grasping a good idea of what was happening was hard especially since treatment began immediately. I had two surgeries to remove the tumour followed by radiation and chemotherapy which changed me drastically.

It was like a restart button had been pressed inside me. The surgeries and all the treatments had left me like I was one year old again. I couldn’t walk or speak, so I had to relearn it all. I had a tutor to reteach me my ABC’s; it was crazy.  It was frustrating too because I was still me on the inside, even if my body couldn’t do as I wanted it to.

Treatment continued alongside therapy to get my speech and motion back. Physically yes I had changed but it was still the same me. I felt like I was living two different lives. I was trying to adjust to this new life whilst trying to get back to my old life.

Getting back to normal life was the hardest part of my journey. I felt like my world had stopped but everyone else had kept going forward. I was trying to find some level of normality but my normal was now different to others. I had gone through a life changing experience that no one else had gone through. My friends didn’t know what I had gone through or what I was going through. I felt like I was alone despite my families support because they couldn’t understand what I was going through.

What I went through changed me and I saw life through a different perspective. I’d grown from it and my views changed about life so it was hard to connect with others my age.  It wasn’t until I joined CanTeen that I found people my own age and other ages that knew what I had gone through because they had gone through the same or similar

At CanTeen I met a lot of people and felt supported straight away. I didn’t know there would be others like myself and so felt instantly comfortable. These people understood what I had gone through and I could talk to them. I could open up to them about so many things. I could open up about how it was exactly in hospital and how I felt about my whole journey. I felt like I was no longer alone.

I became a stronger person through my journey and with CanTeens support. I’ve accepted that I’ve been through cancer and that although I’m not who I use to be before, that I can finally accept who I am now.

Cancer is still very much part of my life and whilst it can easily be overwhelming I find taking it day by day helps me to get through." 

Taylor - Palmerston North

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