Talking with Ellie!
Ellie is a pretty amazing 16 year old. I asked Ellie some questions about being treated for cancer at such a young age and how she has come out a winner at the other end. Not only was the cancer hard on her body, it also took a lot of resilience and determination to keep trying through hard times.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ellie Waters and I'm 16 years old. I loved to play sports, especially football, but that all ground to a halt when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was only 14 at the time so it was a complete shock to me, but nearly 2 years on I can say that I have come out a winner!
I am sure it would of been really difficult dealing not only with the physical complications of being unwell but probably also emotionally? Were there any strategies that you used to help you get through treatment?
The hardest part of treatment for me was being unable to attend school. I had 18 months of treatment, so I missed a lot. During the intensive treatment I was so ill that I was unable to go to school for 8 months, and even when I returned my frail body would only allow me to do mornings at school. The physical and emotional set backs combined were extremely hard for me. I would frequently ponder over how life used to be, and all that I could be doing if I didn't have cancer; soon I became depressed. Depression or anxiety of some form is almost inevitable when facing something as life-changing as cancer. My weakened physical state meant that my mind took over and convinced myself that I was suffocating - it was truly frightening. The ways that I coped with it was to talk to a counsellor, because some of the thoughts I was experiencing would be too hard for my mum, so it was nice to let it all off my chest to my counsellor. The anxiety was like a constant voice in my head saying that I wasn't going to be okay, it stopped me sleeping at night and it convinced myself that I was slowly but surely suffocating. It was a random fear but your mind is so powerful that it seemed real. As hard as it was, I just learnt to not listen to the voice, and I did this by facing my fears, so I could show anxiety who's boss!
How important was a good support network around you during your treatment & diagnosis?
The one thing that helped me massively through treatment was a good support network. A good support network of family and friends was a massive help to me and my immediate family when I was diagnosed. It brightened up my day a little when someone would come to visit me. And trust me I had so many visitors that my mum lost her voice after only a few weeks! Throughout treatment people stopped visiting and altogether stopped caring, so it was interesting to see who my real friends were - the friends that stuck by me throughout. The support network that helped me the most was definitely my cancer friends! After creating my blog, I made so many cancer friends online, from all different countries. It was truly amazing for me to talk to people who understood what I was going through. My cancer friends were and still are my best friends and they helped me through treatment so much. I am so blessed to have met them all, and I have even visited some of them in real life!
Your blog & YouTube channel are a great success, what do you enjoy most about doing them?
The thing I enjoy most about creating blogs and videos is getting messages from those who it helped. It is so rewarding to see that my work is being cherished and loved by others who need it. It is so important for me to continue spreading awareness and advice for the childhood cancer community, because we are such a minority that help is often hard to find. Joining the cancer community as one is my ultimate goal, so we can all support each other in fighting cancer.
Anything else you would like to share?
The main goal I want to achieve through doing my blogs and videos is to get childhood cancer more funding. At the moment, childhood cancer gets a measly 4% funding, leaving adults with 96%. I think this is extremely unfair and we deserve so much more. Due to this lack of funding, childhood cancer only has 3 chemotherapy drugs specifically made for children. Due to the lack of funding, there has been no new treatment for childhood cancer in 10 years. Due to the lack of funding, innocent children and teens are dying everywhere because of the lack of research. It is about time that childhood cancer gets what they deserve!
Thank you so much Ellie for sharing your incredible story with us. You have shown so much bravery, determination and resilience and have become such an advocate, especially for those going through what you have been through - showing them that they are not alone. Check out Ellie's work on YouTube, Instagram, her blog and on Facebook.