Daisy Ellis, 23, was at university when she realised that she could no longer lift things, such as a kettle or the handbrake in her car.
When she started experiencing multiple muscle spasms after sneezing, Daisy, from Nottingham, went to see a doctor.
She was diagnosed with a stage four Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), a rare type of soft tissue cancer, days after her 21st birthday.
She was told that there was a 50/50 chance of her body responding to chemotherapy due to how fast the cancer had spread.
Now, after more than 10 rounds, her body has stopped responding to the treatment.
Still, that’s not going to stop Daisy from living her best life.
‘I won’t let cancer win,’ she says.
The problems began when Daisy’s back started to ache and she struggled to lift heavy objects. Moving things out of her university flat was a challenge but she passed it off as tiredness from overexerting.
Whenever she sneezed her back would have multiple spasms and she would collapse in pain which spread to her right leg.
‘I couldn’t lift anything out of my university flat, but I thought I’d just overdone it with carrying books and my laptop to university every day,’ she said.
‘I would keep going until I was blue in the face, rather than admitting I needed to go home. The pain then spread to my right leg, where my mum would wrap it in a blanket and hot water bottles every night before I went to sleep.
‘When we saw a spine specialist, it was a teenage cancer ward. The word cancer was plastered everywhere. It was normal up here, but to me, I had never been touched by cancer; it was really scary.
‘I was nervous, we then knew it was cancer at the time, but weren’t sure which type. I was waiting by the phone every minute of the day for some answers.’
During six rounds of chemotherapy, her hair began to fall out and she was forced to shave the remaining hair off which devastated Daisy.
Her body reacted so badly to the treatment that she regularly experienced neutropenic sepsis, a life-threatening complication of anti-cancer treatment that causes extremely high fevers.
From September 2017 to February 2018, Daisy had nine rounds of chemotherapy before another four this year to treat the cancer which returned to her leg.
‘I’m living in knowledge that whether they treat my cancer this time or not, it is incurable, and it will always come back,’ added Daisy.
‘Treatments don’t work for everybody, just like chemotherapy doesn’t. Everybody is so different that you have to learn to listen to your own body.
‘I feel so proud of myself; I have discovered a strength I had no idea I had. I’m incredibly protective of myself now and know exactly what is and isn’t important in life.’
‘I know what it’s like to look death straight in the face and to narrowly avoid dying. I have always hated my body image, but now I can’t help but love my body for all that it’s been through and all that it’s got me through.
‘The scars, the damaged spine, the bald head; it’s a whole different type of self-love.’
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