When I ran the Cancer Research UK Race for Life I had a sign on my back that read: ‘I am two weeks in remission.’
The response I received was amazing. People were hugging me — it was a fantastic way of getting back out there after having treatment for so long.
I took part in the Brighton 5K Run with my mum and two sisters, which I ran and walked a bit of the way. It was exhausting because I lost all of my muscle strength and felt physically sick during treatment.
That was in 2010, and was the first event I took part in to raise funds and awareness of cancer.
I went to see a physiotherapist in March 2009 for shoulder pain that I had suffered for six months, and she discovered a lump in my neck.
Everything then moved very quickly. I went to see my GP, who referred me to Eastbourne District General Hospital immediately, and by 6pm that day I discovered I had lymphoma. I was then transferred to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where I learned I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began chemotherapy.
The diagnosis was a real shock to my family and me, and it was a gruelling experience. I was in hospital for two weeks at a time and received chemotherapy as an outpatient.
I was given the all-clear after three months, but by January 2010 the cancer had returned, and I had to undergo more chemotherapy, a stem-cell harvest and radiotherapy. The second time was a lot worse because I knew what was coming. It also coincided with my GCSEs, so I had to take some modules in hospital.
I think the experience will help me in my medical training because I understand what it is like being a patient. As a teenage patient, a lot of decisions are being made for you, and you are not entirely sure what is going on; I think it will be useful to understand that as a medical student and doctor.
I understand how, when you are in hospital, the five minutes you get with a doctor are such an important part of your day. I also have a good idea of what makes a good and bad bedside manner.
My work with Cancer Research UK has helped me to understand how a large charitable organisation works, which is useful knowledge. This year, I was involved in its new advertising campaign, for which I was photographed alongside other cancer survivors, charity volunteers and staff to form part of the first ‘C’ in its logo.
I wanted to give something back to cancer research, because it undoubtedly helped me. Whether it is running a race or telling my story, I hope I help someone. In turn, I hope my experience will assist me in becoming a good doctor.
Camilla Hickish is a Bristol medical student
What a touching story; it is heartwarming to know that such an awful experience has been turned around to such good effect on both a public and personal level. Let's have another blog entry detailing the good, the bad and the ugly of bedside manner! I'm sure we will all be able to learn from that!! Thanks for sharing.
What a brilliant story! Camilla is one of the few that defies all odds and sets no boundaries to what she is able or not able to do. This is a story for all of us to read and take heart from! Thank you.
One of my aunts is also in remission from cancer and like you, she is still amazingly upbeat and positive. She has always been an inspiration to me because of her way of looking at life (and death such as when her first husband died at a fairly young age) I feel inspired by you as well Camilla and here's hoping you remain cancer free in the future x