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Documenting not dying since October 2013.



You wake up on a folded hoodie (you have not been in hospitals before; you do not know that you can ask for a proper pillow)

Creep to the bathroom, trying not to wake the other patients 

Hoping the machine pushing a stranger's blood into your veins doesn't make a noise (thank you)

Your family come to visit, your sister has got into the university she hoped for 

The doctor comes with a green form for you to sign 

A general anaesthetic (the first of countless)

A bone marrow aspirate 

A lumbar puncture 

"Diagnostic" is the reason 


You wake up hours later, so hungry

Rice Krispies 

A different doctor comes

He is new to you (he is in charge)

He takes you, your parents, your drip stand to the quietest room (the quiet rooms are not for good news)

He says the words that deafen you 








You cry for three days 


And live in hospital for the next three years 


To make you better, they have to poison you 

Nurses in aprons


face masks

arm gauntlets

plastic gloves

to protect them from the drugs they are going to give you 

(a sick person)

to kill the thing that's killing you 


The only chance of a cure is to empty you 

Change the DNA in the place all the cells are born

Your sister is a match


She takes drugs for ten days to boost her number of cells

They make her bones ache

Then she bleeds for two days 

And they give it to you 


Just a bag of cells 

(a stem cell transplant is highly anti-climactic)


It works too well

The cancer doesn't notice anything is different 

It comes back after four months (you notice a tumour growing on your face)


You have a four percent chance of surviving 


You agree to try

(after some convincing)


And you spend the next ten years losing things 

Your hair 

All of it 

Yes even that hair (you are so smooth)

Your nails

Your fertility

Your ability to tolerate light 

Layers of your skin

The lining of your mouth 

The enzymes in your stomach that allow you to digest anything 

Your liver 

Your second stem cell donor 

Your ability to lift up your head

sit up

roll over

go to the toilet

without help

Your sanity

Three-quarters of your lung function 

Three and a half stone

Friends you made along the way (bonds that no one else can understand and oh god I miss you so much)


Some of these things come back 

Some of them are irretrievable



You grieve

For the parts of you that are gone 

The life you thought you would have 

The education




children you will never have 

And you let them go 


You are lucky

You are a chimera

You are "unique in medical literature"

You are loved 

You are alive

You have a purpose


You need nothing else. 

The 13th & 14th; Feels like autumn.

The 13th & 14th; Feels like autumn.

The 11th & 12th; As if no time has passed at all.

The 11th & 12th; As if no time has passed at all.