What gets you up in the morning? What is your main goal in life? What helps improve your mental health?
These are questions you should ask yourself regularly, or even better, daily. There are defining moments in everyone’s life that will help to form the person that we eventually grow into. If we’re fortunate, these will mostly be positive experiences but there will also be setbacks and challenges along the way. Over the course of the following paragraphs, I will share the defining moments that I’ve experienced. This blog post is in no way an invitation for sympathy. These moments have made me into the person I am today and helped me to gain knowledge, experience, and a real passion for life.
First, let’s take a trip back to 1998
The internet was still running on dial-up, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released on the N64 and the Millennium Bug was still perceived as a very real existential threat. I was 5 years old in 1998 and experienced my first major moment in life.
I was born with a ventricular septal defect, which in layman’s terms means I had a hole in my heart, and spent a lot of my early life in and out of hospital. This did have one key benefit - hospitals do not phase me in the slightest! The doctors monitored my heart defect throughout the first few years of my life but, at the age of 5, it was decided that to give me the best chance of living a full, healthy, and active life, I would need to have open heart surgery to fix the hole. Looking back now, I appreciate how much of a big deal this was but at the time, I was young and took it completely in my stride. I was admitted to Great Ormond Street hospital for the surgery and discharged around a week later without any further complications. Hooray, I can now put the trauma of open heart surgery behind me and go about living my (active!) life.
Fast forward to 2018
We were running on broadband, the Millennium Bug never came to fruition and Corona was still just a beer. At this point in my life, I’d enjoyed 20 years of good health but there was an underlying issue that just would not subside. After months of travelling to hospital appointments in London, feeling a general lack of energy, and what seemed like endless blood tests; I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was told that I would need to have chemo to treat the disease.
I knew that something was not right with my body and although I was in complete shock, there was a sense of relief that I finally knew what I was dealing with. I started chemotherapy in December 2018 to stop the progression of ‘large B-cell Lymphoma’ and the treatment carried on until April 2019.
The ensuing months of chemo felt like they would never end. It was, without doubt, the toughest experience of my life but as I said previously, it has made me into the person I am today.
There were times where I'd hit