Former Beatson patient and blogger Kayla of 'My Fight Against Cancer', gives us her own account of going through treatment at The Beatson and how important the cancer centre is to her.
Hi, my name is Kayla and I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in early 2017. I felt a hard lump on the side of my neck and was extremely tired. I went to my GP who referred me for tests immediately with the suspicion of lymphoma. With living on the Isle of Skye in the Highlands the hospital I went to for my biopsy was two and a half hours away. When the results came back and it was definite that it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I was referred for a staging scan. The nearest PET scanner for me was five hours away.
It was really scary knowing everything was so far away from home, luckily, I was offered a place at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow. It was still five hours away from home but from the minute I stepped foot into the building I was greeted by a smiling face and I instantly felt at ease. I got my staging scan along with other tests the day after arriving, so everything was super-efficient.
I had a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line put in after my second dose of chemotherapy. The procedure was explained to me in depth and pros and cons were considered. Again, even though it was a super strange and daunting experience I felt as though I was in the right hands. It reduced my anxiety massively knowing I didn’t have to deal with any needles. It was a pain having it there 24/7 and having to get it flushed and redressed once a week but really was worth it.
When it came to the point in my treatment where I began to lose my hair, I was offered support there too. My clinical nurse specialist gave me advice on where to look for wigs. Through the Teenage Cancer Trust, I was entitled to a real hair wig as well as a synthetic hair wig. This was an exciting concept for me as I’d obviously never gone shopping for a wig before. With always having waist-length, thick blonde hair seeing it fall out was absolutely devastating. However, it wasn’t the worst part of my journey.
When my temperature spiked half-way through my treatment, I was linked up to IV antibiotics over a weekend in my local cottage hospital. This was a low point of my journey. I was hearing terms such as neutropenic sepsis and wasn’t having it explained to me so I was very in the dark. I didn’t know how long I’d be on the IV antibiotics for or whether future chemotherapy would be delayed. As soon as I was well enough to be transferred down to The Beatson, I went there. I instantly felt more ‘at home’. I wasn’t on a constant drip and was listened to when I complained about pains and aches. I was surrounded by nurses who knew me and all about my cancer journey so far which really helped.
I don’t regret my decision to take the place at The Beatson. Don’t get me wrong the 500 mile road trip every two weeks is a nightmare but for the quality of care you receive it’s worth it.
Following treatment I decided to walk the Glasgow Santa Dash to raise money for The Beatson. It’s so important for me to give back to those who were there for me throughout my journey. It doesn’t matter how far you travel, The Beatson is there to provide professional, friendly help.
If you have been inspired by Kayla's experience you can visit her blog website 'My Fight Against Cancer' for more of her journey.