Julie Dow


Fundraising for The Chartwell Cancer Trust
raised of £500 target
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My story starts with me being eternally grateful today and every day that I’m here to tell my tale…….

Back in 2004 I received the diagnosis that no one wants to hear  “You have Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer “ I had found two lumps in my stomach in November 2003 two days before we were due to move , so I was busy and thought I will be fine as we all so often do . 

It was in between Christmas and New Year that I finally went to the doctors as I had noticed the lumps were not only still there but we’re now  much bigger!After being sent straight for ultra sound scans , I received a phone call at work from my GP saying you have two large cysts on your ovaries that are probably nothing serious but I recommend you get them tested immediately, and recommended I see a consultant in Harley Street to be seen as quickly as possible. I was in Dr Oram’s office two days later where he advised I had a operation to remove the cysts , one being now the size of a grapefruit! In a cruel twist of fate after James and I recently being married and hoping to be able to have a baby I looked pregnant and was secretly wishing that I was… It wasn’t to be …

After biopsies taken and being called back early for post op check up was the biggest shock of my life being told “I have some bad news for you , you have Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma… But the good news is we can cure it “ words cannot express how you begin to process hearing that news …..                                                     

Because of knowing our desire to hoping to add to our family( I had Luke my son who was 13 at the time) we where then sent straight to the fertility clinic to discuss the option of freezing my eggs as the six cycles of Chemotherapy would take away any chance of me being able to conceive .But in the words of the Fertility consultant  who would need six weeks to stimulate my eggs for being able to be frozen , it was too long in the life of my particular cancer to risk my life …

So after gruelling treatment of Chemotherapy infections, many trips back and forth to St Barts hospital I got given the news that every cancer patient wants to hear that I was in remission, phew ! that was tough but slowly we began as a family and got our life back together. 

I walked the 5k “Race for life “ on recovery and “Shine Marathon night time walk raising money for Cancer research.

Life was good and continued to be so for 15 years of been given the All Clear … Until in early May 2019 I had a continuous sore throat had been told by a doctor not my normal GP that I had a virus and it was nothing to worry about . After two trips to the doctors I found a small raised lymph node on the right side of my neck , back again to the GP , no it’s nothing to worry about although I kept saying “But I’m worried because of my history of Lymphoma “ it was a doctor that I saw one evening at a hub in Bromley( and ironically  my mother’s GP ) that requested immediately I be sent for a biopsy..Biopsies were taken of my neck in three places as my neck had begun to swell and infactv there were now three lumps . I was sent to the ear nose and throat clinic at the PRH where the consultant looked down my throat and expressed that he don’t like the look of my left tonsil and said immediately it would haven’t to be taken out . 

So the operation was arranged , I went into day surgery  still not having been told my results of my biopsies all gowned up waiting to be taken to theatre when the surgeon came to meet me and went through the normal formalities. Then looking at his notes I saw his expression change , as he asked me “Have you received the results of your biopsies taken ?”  I explained that I hadn’t , when he proceeded to tell me he would be back soon . I recall at least a hour went past nurses asking if I was okay had the doctor spoken to me yet , as I began to think something is not right here … 

I then was asked by a lovely nurse to come into a private room on the side of the ward where I was me with the doctor and asked to take a seat . I felt extremely vulnerable as was in a hospital gown as said previously,  that as we all know don’t secure properly as I was told once again. “I’m afraid we have bad news for you your cancer has returned a large B-Cell  Lymphoma Double expressor stage two.” Once again hearing those words I was in disbelief! “Not again “ I turned and said to the nurse … 

So here we go again … round two of fighting the battle to stay alive ! thankfully I’m a strong minded determined character who thrives on being positive and taking life as it comes and will always find a way or solution.

On meeting my consultant Dr Paraskevi Gkreka at the Chartwell Cancer Unit I couldn’t have wished for a nicer person who I put my life in her hands .I was explained my treatment plan of once again Chemotherapy different from my previous one and that I would be receiving a Stem Cell treatment I was treated with my Chemo  at Chartwell first then went to Kings College hospital to have Stem Cell Autologous transplant ( autologous meaning I donated my own cells to myself) which I was extremely lucky to be able to do this , some patients are unable to and require a Stem Cell donor .

On thinking the first Chemo I received previously was tough this was a whole different level! On before signing to agree to go ahead with my planned treatment schedule, I was told one in three people don’t survive this treatment I could end up in intensive care be extremely unwell at risk of continued infections and consequently will have no immune system and be left with side effects and always a low immune system. That was a hell of a lot to take in …But , it was my best option of survival so I went ahead . I was admitted to Kings hospital on the 23rd December and spent Christmas and New Year under the care of the specialist doctors and nurses and never want another Christmas like that again. 

I was discharged from hospital early January very weak and unwell but with the help of my amazing family and friends you know who you are , especially the most important two men in my life James and Luke  I have made a full recovery and will always be eternally grateful to each and every body both professional and personally that I am able to share my story ….

Those that know me well know I can never tell a short story lol 😂 and although very long as usual! I hope you can understand that I now feel the time is right to give something back in my way of fundraising for these remarkable charities and hospitals that we are so lucky to have in our NHS . 

I am also raising awareness of DKMS which is a Charity to become a Stem Cell donor and delete blood cancer  for good , of which I am so proud that my son Luke has signed up for to donate his Stem Cells to someone that is not a fortunate as I . 

Many thanks for taking the time to read my story if I could get one person to sign up to be a donor at least that would be another challenge in my life I would have completed . 

Any donations would be much appreciated and gratefully received.

Julie x

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