Coronavirus (COVID-19): visiting The Royal Marsden suspended

Due to the increasing numbers of cases of coronavirus across the UK, we have suspended all visiting to The Royal Marsden apart from specific circumstances. Read here for more information.

Jordan Chalk, 19, neuroblastoma patient

In March 2000, when I was two years old, I was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. Thankfully, I have no memory of these early days, but for my parents it is a different story.

They had taken me to the GP after I’d started walking strangely, and were referred to our local hospital. I was initially diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, but when I stopped eating and started losing weight, I underwent three weeks of tests and scans before my family were given the earth- shattering cancer diagnosis.

I was transferred to The Royal Marsden’s children’s unit for treatment. My memories of being at the hospital are hazy, but I do remember sitting on my dad’s lap looking at a huge array of exciting needles – little did I know what was in store!

Over the next nine months, I spent a huge amount of time at The Royal Marsden for treatment, including high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell harvest. It was a very scary time for all of us but the unit was brilliant. Nothing was ever too much trouble for the nurses.

One of the things that my mum found difficult was when my hair started falling out during intensive chemotherapy, so my dad, grandad and nana all shaved their heads in solidarity and to raise money for charity, including the children’s unit.

Following my first round of chemotherapy, the results on my MIBG scan were incredible. The scan is used to look for uncontrolled or abnormal cell growth in the body – mine went from a black skeleton to one that looked a lot clearer.

Remission was never really talked about – just getting to the end of the treatment was the goal

Remission was never really talked about – just getting to the end of the treatment was the goal. Now, after 17 years, I have finally been discharged from The Royal Marsden. Hearing that news was such a relief because it meant no more hospital visits.

The cancer journey is very difficult so all you can do is take it one day at a time. I’ve completed a college course in electrics and I’ve passed my driving test. Cancer is scary but I refused to let it define me – life is good.