On the 15th August I had my final session of radiotherapy, it was such an amazing feeling and as I took my final breath-hold I was celebrating in my head. I had done it, after a gruelling 7 months I had finished all my treatment. I have to say that throughout all my treatment the nurses have been fantastic, such wonderful and amazing people who made the horrible process so much more bearable and to these people I owe my life.
After the radiotherapy I met my radiotherapy consultant and he said that I will have an appointment in a few weeks and a scan in about three months time to assess my cancer and whether or not I am in 'remission'. Fingers crossed that I am, all I can do for now is wait and try and get my life back on track!
The 15th of August was a good day for me - I finished my treatment and I also bought my very first car, a 1 litre Vauxhall Corsa! I am so chuffed with it and have been out in it a few times since purchasing it, I am picking up my driving again after I decided to take a break after my diagnosis. I hope this is a sign of things finally beginning to go my way! The day after my mum and her partner organised a surprise for me, I was taken to a local Jaguar dealership and got to go out in a brand new Jaguar F-Type - with just under 500 BHP! (I was a passenger, sadly wasn't allowed to drive it...) then from there I went on to go out in an Aston Martin Rapide - which has an astonishing 550 BHP, that thing was crazy and we were driven by a former race driver, doing over 90mph around tight bends and country lanes. It was brilliant!! So, overall I've had a good few days in terms of cars, got my own and I have also been out in two fantastic sporty cars. My dad would be so jealous.
Whilst mentioning my dad I would just like to say a thank you to my close family: my mum has been absolutely amazing, without her I could never have done any of this. She has taken me to every appointment, every session of treatment and has looked after me, telling me when to take my pills and just being bloody brilliant! I always said that I wanted to be like my dad, but I also want to be like my mum - she is such an amazing person, so brave and thoughtful, caring and kind. She has a smile on her face 9 times out of 10 and that smile and cackle of a laugh makes me so happy and makes me incredibly proud to call her my mum! Love you mum!!
Also, my brother James has been a real help. He has helped look after my little sister whenever I have had to stay in hospital and he has been there to talk to, as well as cook some... interesting food! My little sister Rebecca is an absolute star, I am incredibly protective over her but that is because I want her to be happy and to be safe. She has been through so much in her 13 years on earth and the strength and courage she has shown is inspirational and motivates me so much. Some people call me and inspiration, well, let me tell you that, that little girl is twice as inspirational as I will ever be and she keeps me smiling. As for my dad, well... there is no way I could have come through this with the positive attitude that I have if it wasn't for him doing the same when he was ill. Also, due to my dad's passing, I joined my boxing club which has taught me so much and has allowed me to handle this whole process so well - without this I would have had an even harder time.
So, since finishing treatment I have got back to training. I have done a few little sessions of my own and next week I hope to go back to a few of the classes, obviously going at a much slower pace but slow and steady wins the race as they say. I have also enjoyed a few days out and seen a few friends, I've been out in my car and I have been helping train the junior boxers and kickboxers at the boxing gym, I have also been trying to start a new diet including foods and drinks, high in anti-oxidants and that are 'anti-cancerous', I have been doing some research and putting together my own meals to try and help kill off those cancer cells even more and keep them away!
Anyway, after finishing treatment I will go back to see my radiotherapy and chemotherapy consultants in the first and second week of September and I think I will have a scan in around three months to see if I am in remission. Personally, I feel a lot better in myself, a hell of a lot stronger physically and I've got a full head of hair again, so I sometimes feel normal again! I guess all I can do until those scans is stay as healthy as I possibly can, get back into my training and hope that the cancer is gone. I have also heard that beating cancer is also a lot to do with the way you think about it, e.g. if you're confident that you can beat it and you keep re-enforcing that belief then you are more than likely going to beat it. I have had that attitude from the second I was diagnosed and apart from a few bad days that's the way I have always thought, but I have also started saying aloud and inside my head sometimes "cancer cells, DIE!" almost instructing the cancer cells within me to die and for the cancer to go. Whether that works or not, I'm willing to say that for a few minutes a day to try and keep that thing away!
I said in the paragraph above that I sometimes feel normal, let me explain that one a little more...
I can only speak on my behalf because I haven't actually spoken to that many people in-depth who have or have had cancer, but from the moment I was diagnosed, I stopped feeling normal. I felt almost as if I was an alien, I just felt weird and I honestly felt like all I was, was a disease. A lot of people stopped talking to me, a lot of people found it awkward as they didn't know what to say to me, but I didn't feel normal at all. I began to lose my hair, I was always feeling sick, tired and weak, I couldn't go to college that often and when I did I couldn't do all the sport like everybody else and I was getting stared at by people because it was obvious I had cancer from the way I looked. I had a port-a-cath fitted under my skin and so that didn't look very normal, I wasn't able to eat certain foods and had to be careful around anyone with a slight cold. I went from feeling normal, confident, strong, well-liked and popular to feeling embarrassed, ugly, weak, disliked, avoided, un-popular and nervous.
Since being diagnosed I wasn't able to do things that other people my age where doing, so I got left behind. I wasn't mixing with people (apart from my mum and nurses), I wasn't invited out anywhere and I have never felt so lonely in my life. I couldn't go boxing because I just physically couldn't do it. I spent almost every day for two years in that gym building great relationships with so many brilliant people and my dreams felt like they were getting closer and closer after every session, then BAM! 'You've got Hodgkin's Lymphoma' - your dreams are put on hold, they feel like they're slipping away, you're scared for the future, your scared for your family and yes, you are scared of death. Nobody can say they're not when you get diagnosed with a disease such as cancer. Of course, in my mind the only way I could fight this was by being positive and using my dreams to drive and motivate me to get through those four gruelling months of chemotherapy and then the two months of heart problems and radiotherapy.
I'm writing this and I'm not quite sure this all makes sense or fits in with this whole blog post, but what I've said here is something I have bottled up all this time and now I feel brave enough to let it all out, but I would just like to end this post with the following...
My name is Tyler White. In January 2009 the most amazing man in my life died, after a two year battle with cancer (Hodgkins Lymphoma) - this made me realise that I needed to change my life and make my dad proud, so I got in contact with a local boxing club A.R.D. Training Camp. After an initial phone call I went down for my first training session and fell in love with it, since that day I never looked back and I knew through this sport was how I was going to make my dad proud. My coach was a guy called Andre Daltrey - a 'Full Contact Kick Boxing World Champion' and I respected that and listened to everything he had to say, he spoke to the class as a whole and spoke about training more than once a week if you want to be a Champion, he also spoke about keeping a training diary. So I did. From that day, I kept a training diary and I started training 3/4 times a week. A few months after starting, two boys told me I was 'sh*t' at boxing and after that I told Andre about my dad and why I was doing boxing and I think that was probably when myself and he realised how seriously I was going to take this sport and how much I was willing to do. After a while, my fitness was amazing compared to what it had been, I started losing weight and developing as a boxer and a person, then in December 2010 I was made Captain of the junior boxers at A.R.D. Training Camp.
Then, later in 2011 I really began to progress and I was given a membership to join the Senior squad and from there I met some amazing people and became known as 'Justin Bieber' (due to my Bieber haircut), 'Pacman' (because I eat everything) and finally one of the 'Maggots'. It was throughout this year especially that I learnt a lot about myself and a lot about fitness and psychology in a bit more depth. After joining in September 2011 I had my first boxing contest on 10th December 2011 and won.
Throughout 2012 I kept on improving, I was getting fitter, stronger, faster, I was hitting harder and I was developing a good style, I fought again in April and twice in September, winning those three contests all against older guys. Times were exciting, I had become Head Boy at school, passed all my GCSE's, I was becoming a good boxer and my dreams of turning Pro at 18 were getting closer and closer.
Shortly after my fourth fight on September 29th 2012, I began to get a really bad, dry cough. I assumed it was a chest infection, so went to the doctors and got antibiotics, I kept going back as the cough continued and was told that it was an infection, then that it was whooping cough, then that it was inflammation (the doctor was google-ing all of my symptoms, very professional...) - as a result, I stopped training so often (I was training 8-10 times a week!!) and it just wouldn't shift, I couldn't train as hard as I had done because the cough was too much and then I had an incredibly sharp pain in the right side of my chest. This was when I knew what it was. Around December time/early January, a lump started to emerge just to the left of my right pectoral muscle, it was sore if you pushed on it and so back to the doctors I went, insisting that it was something serious. I was sent off for a blood test and an X-Ray.
The day after my X-Ray, I received a phone call from my GP saying that there was something abnormal found in my scan. I ran upstairs and burst into tears, I knew it was cancer, I'd told myself ever since my dad passed away that I would get it, I just had a feeling. So, after a CT scan it was confirmed. I had a lymphoma. 6 by 5 inches in between my lungs, part of the tumour was resting on a vessel to my heart. So, I started the prednisolone early and started chemotherapy as soon as possible.
Then you guys know the rest, chemotherapy for four months, sickness, hair loss, couldn't walk, pleurisy, shingles. Then radiotherapy and fluid around the heart which if it wasn't drained, would have killed me. Exciting year hey?
A lot of people cannot understand cancer, especially if you've not had it yourself, but for me it was a very lonely time. I didn't mix with people because of a few reasons: I was too ill, people weren't sure whether to invite me out or not and because I was in hospital a lot of the time. However, it now feels a little more normal, but I am so out of sync with everyone my age that I often feel very out of place, I don't know what to say any more and I don't feel very liked - it often feels as though people just feel sorry for me. Believe it or not, I'm still a laugh, I still like to mess around and have fun, I'm not a nasty guy, I have changed a lot because of this experience and if people gave me the chance maybe they could see that? All that said, I have seen a few friends, but now I feel it's time to try and get back to normal and be like all the normal guys and girls my age. I just want to be normal again!
I don't quite know if I could have handled this year half as well as I have done if it wasn't for Andre and the guys at A.R.D. Training Camp - everyone there taught me so much, I have learnt a hell of a lot about myself and learnt so many psychology techniques and exercises which have helped me. Me and my mum have both admitted that if it wasn't for the boxing and all the training and support I received I probably would have struggled a whole lot more, and who knows, if it wasn't for the training maybe I wouldn't have noticed the cancer? It's heart breaking knowing your dreams may be snatched away from you, but I think I have proved that I am a fighter. I don't give up. And, I wont give up on my dreams. As I once said...
"My Dreams will become a reality - Cancer can't stop me."