“I used to be ashamed of my scar, but now I’m really proud of it, it’s like a badge of honour.”
Andy Roast, 27, online editor, London
“My first experience of cancer was back when I was just 12 years old. I had a pre-cancerous lump removed from my femur, then I had a metal plate put in place to support me. Since then I’ve always felt some sort of pain – especially when it’s cold. I just put that down to the metal, or maybe it was all in my head, who knows?
“It was from around 18 months before my sarcoma diagnosis, when I was 24, that it started to hurt all the time, like a dull, constant ache. At the time, I was training for a half marathon, so I just put the pain down to that. I went to see my GP, told him I was in pain and had had a lump removed 12 years previously, and asked if they should check it out. After a few weeks, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon for an MRI scan. A week after that, surgeons still weren’t sure what it was, but I knew it was cancer.
“My diagnosis in 2014 met me with a sense of relief. I’m not sure how I was supposed to feel, you read stories about people being devastated and their lives turning upside-down, but honestly, I was just glad to know what was wrong with me. Treatment and recovery was difficult and I had some very low moments. But once I was over the worst of it, I threw myself back into life and wanted to see as many friends as I could.
“I worked with a physio after my operation and could see improvements every week, walking that little bit further each time. I continued to set myself goals, for example moving to using only one crutch, then just a walking stick some of the time. Now I rarely use my stick, only when I am really tired or have been to the pub!
“I try to keep as active as possible, I ride my bike to my job at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I love my job, and it was such a positive influence in my life during my recovery, as I gradually started working from home before I went back properly! Working meant I wasn’t just defined as a cancer patient, and it distracted me a lot. I never wanted to let my diagnosis define me. A few months ago, I even went hiking in Snowdonia. It was such a rush; I would never have believed this was possible when I was lying in a hospital bed.
“I see only positivity in my future, and my next big goal is to complete a London to Paris cycle ride! I love seeing this image of my scar, as I never really get to see it. It used to be something I was ashamed of, but now I’m really proud of it, it’s like a badge of honour.”