Hi! My name is Lucia Pasqualino, I'm 19 years old and I have been visiting the Royal Manchester Children's hospital since I was 15 when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a blood cancer that usually affects children of around 5 or 6. I spent months in hospital throughout my treatment which lasted from March 2005 until August 2007. Like some of you who may be reading this, the chemotherapy gave me some nasty side effects. I suffered complete hair loss and went from losing weight to gaining it every few weeks, I had sickness and many, many temperatures which landed me back in hospital.
However, it wasn't all bad! I joined the young people's cancer support group (YOBS) and made friends with others of a similar age. Four years on I am still in touch with many of them. Through the group I have raised over £5,000 in the last two years and continue as a young volunteer, supporting new patients. I also benefited from many trips away from home, for example going to London, the Clothes Show and adventure holidays which were a much needed break from being a patient, even for a few days!
I also continued with my school work as much as I could. I sat two GCSE's in my hospital room in May 2005 at the end of Year Ten and passed them and managed to complete the rest on time in May 2006, passing all seven including one A* and four A grades. This helped me to concentrate on getting better, it kept my mind active and distracted me from feeling ill, although at times Maths made it worse! It made me feel like I was more connected to my friends as a lot of the time I was isolated and I couldn't go out as I was too weak or open to infection.
I didn't write this story to boast but I wanted to prove that many young people do come out of treatment and are able to continue a normal life. I finished treatment two years ago now and without the occasional hospital clinic visit you wouldn't know I had ever been ill. I'm out most nights, my hair has grown back, scars have faded and the weight came off. A lot of the bad things that happened to me in hospital are a distant memory. I started my A levels after treatment and I'm waiting for my results. If I get the grades I will be studying Politics at the University of Manchester, just down the road from the New Children's Hospital, they just couldn't keep me away!