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LEUKAEMIA SURVIVOR SHARES HER INSPIRING JOURNEY

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Olivia Pexman - Acute Myeloid Leukemia Survivor
“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

Olivia Pexman was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2016. She has successfully defeated her disease.

The Diagnosis

“In 2015 I had two miscarriages and couldn’t understand why or what was happening. I was adamant I was going to get to the bottom of it so I kept going to the doctors trying to demand tests. They just kept passing it off saying I’m young and I have plenty of time but I didn’t want to just let it go.

April 3th 2016 they agreed to start looking into things so they called me in for a blood test to start things off. When the results came back I was called in and they told me they thought I had B12 deficiency, and they sent me away and told me to return in a month to see if my bloods came back the same then they would go from there. So May 5th I went in around 11am had my bloods done and went home, 6pm that same day I got a phone call from my doctor.

She asked if I was at home, I said yes. She went on to tell me my bloods have come back and showing signs of leukemia. I could not tell you another word she said in that phone call as I just went completely numb. My mum tried to phone back once I got off the phone and told her she didn’t believe what I was saying, but the receptionist had said because it was after 6pm and I was over 18 she couldn’t talk to her. So I had to wait till my appointment the next day at 11.30am.

She just confirmed what she had said on the phone the night before and said I would be receiving a phone call from castle hill hospital in hull within the next few days. Friday 7th of May 2016 I was admitted to have a bone marrow biopsy and I didn’t leave after that for 7 weeks. I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.”

The Journey

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“My journey has been up and down, I’ve always been a very positive person so I tried not to let it phase me too much but obviously I had days when I just couldn’t. I started off having 4 rounds of chemotherapy each being about 4 weeks long. So I was staying in hospital 4-6 weeks and having 2 weeks at home in-between each cycle. I went into remission after my first round of chemo but I still had a gene that would just bring it straight back if I didn’t have the other 3 rounds so I plodded on and had the other 3.

My last chemo was September 2016, when my bone marrow results came back, I was leukaemia free but still had 0.5% of this gene left but they wanted to see what happened if they stopped treatment and monitored me very closely with biopsies every 8 weeks. February 2017 I relapsed, to me this was worse than being diagnosed in the beginning as I knew what I was up against. So this time round my plan was different, I was to have 1 round of the strongest chemo there is at hull and then radiotherapy, chemo and a bone marrow transplant in Nottingham.

I had genuinely never been so scared in all my life. I was 21 years old and I didn’t know what was round the corner for me. Going through this journey took away the person I was, it drained the life out of me and not just because I was physically exhausted. I can honestly say I am 15 months post-transplant now and I’m only just getting back to myself and finding who I used to be.”

Motivation to fight cancer

“My motivation to fight cancer was for my family, my fiancé and for the people I’ve lost to this awful illness. I wanted to kick it for them as well as myself and for the fact I was 21 and wasn’t ready to give up.”

Biggest hindrance

“Relapsing after I thought it was all over, and having to go through it all a second time. The transplant was the hardest part it took me over a year to recover from it.”

Message to other cancer patients

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“Be positive, stay strong and don’t stop smiling.”

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