My first big trip out of the house was to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. I’d never heard of it before and wondered why I had to go all the way to Sutton to talk about what treatment I was going to have, rather than to a hospital nearer by. The reason for it really is that the Royal Marsden is a cancer specialist hospital and is one of the best in the country to go to if you’ve got it.
The first challenge of the day was getting me downstairs. I still at this point couldn’t walk by myself and having spent most of my time in the last few weeks upstairs, it was going to be tricky. Luckily with the help of my Mum I managed it and to be honest I was glad to get down the stairs so that I could go back to lying down. My left arm was in so much pain when I wasn’t lying on it.
The next challenge was getting me out the front door and into the car. Whilst my Mum was helping me out the door we wobbled and fell into the clematis bush that was to the right of our front door. This was one of many times that this would happen, but luckily we both have a great sense of humour and found the funny side rather than getting upset about it!
Configuring myself in the car was difficult too. As I could no longer sit upright due to the pain in my left arm, I had to find a way to be able to lie down comfortably with myself strapped in with the seat belt. It took several attempts to get me into a position where I was comfortable. My Mum had the great idea of grabbing some scatter cushions from the sofa to ‘pad’ me up a bit and make me feel as comfy as possible.
The journey began and it felt weird not being able to look out the window, I had no idea where I was going, but luckily my parents found the way and we arrived outside this strange building. I’d never been here before so I didn’t quite know what to expect. We walked into the reception area and were directed to the children’s unit. As I was 17 at the time that was where I had to go, if I had gone a month or two later at the age of 18, I would have been directed to the adult’s unit. All these strange words were being used and I remember being told that we had to go to the outpatient’s part of the children’s unit, having never had any experience in a hospital before I had no idea what the word outpatient meant and was already finding this whole experience quite scary and confusing. I was in a wheelchair so was wheeled by my Mum with my Dad alongside us down to the children’s unit.
I remember going into the children’s unit, there seemed to be a slightly darkened corridor with seats at the side, people were sitting on them, children and their parents. There were lots of doors leading off this corridor, but we walked all the way down and ended up in a large much lighter room which had several beds in it, much like your average hospital ward. I was aware of this thinking that we shouldn’t be there disturbing the patients that were there, all of which were young children and at 17 years old I felt really out of place.
A nurse came and greeted us and upon my Mum’s request to let me lay down to relieve the pain in my arm, led us to a bed where I did so on my left side. My Mum stayed by my side until a doctor came and introduced herself to us. Her name was Sucheta and I have known her for these past 10 years. At first, I was scared of her, as I was so shy but luckily my Mum can talk for England and took over. Sucheta asked me a few questions, how I was feeling and such and then suggested to my parents that they follow her to her office to talk over my situation. I was told that I could stay where I was and off they went, ‘It’ll only be for 10 minutes’, I was told.