My name is Charlie Williams. I could have died by now. I recently found out I was not going to die. At Addenbrooke's Hospital I had to endure medical treatments that included radiotherapy, which involved me going into a cylindrical tunnel for about half an hour, which is quite scary for a 6 year old, as I was at the time.
I also had several MRI scans, also in a cylindrical tunnel, with all kinds of noises while you are inside. The chemotherapy was through a drip which was inserted into my body, in my upper chest, like a transfusion, and went on for a few hours at a time every month. I also had to have lots of blood transfusions. Needles aren't the nicest thing in the world, and I used to be petrified of them, so you can imagine what it felt like for me to have them inserted into me so often as a child. But I'm used to them now.
Do you think you could cope with all that medical treatment? How do you think it would change you as a person? Being ill, and knowing that there may be a chance that you will lose the things that make up your life, makes you value those things. For instance, material things like computers and calculators, even pens and pencils, become special things in a way, because you realise that without them you would not have the tools for your education. A simple pencil may mean nothing to a child in my school, but to a child in, say, a poor village in Uganda, it may just be the start of a lifetime of education. I think about these kinds of things now after being ill for so long. In most classes in this school, there will always be one child (sometimes more, sometimes even three) who will distract the rest of the children by doing something daft or ~. It happens so often, maybe every five minutes, sometimes every minute. The person doing it seems to want to be the centre of attention he uses the whole class as his stage, to do his performance. He doesn't really care that there are other people there who really want to learn the subject the teacher is teaching. He just wants to distract anyone else who, like him, doesn't care about learning. He is basically being selfish. I just look at people like him and think, 'why'? Once in a blue moon, I will also misbehave, don't we all, whether we are children or adults, it's part of growing up, and part of life. But like I said, it's once in a blue moon, not every minute of the day.
Being seriously ill makes you think about these sorts of things, because you think about what is important and what's not. I wonder if those children, who don't care and don't behave, all had cancer one day, like me. Would it change them? For all you children, food is not just vital, you love good food, think about all those things you love to eat: chocolate, cheeseburgers, fries, sweets, cakes, sausages, roast dinner, and loads of other things. But imagine several days of not being able to put anything, even a drop of water, in your mouth. When you have to have so many operations and medicines, you just can't keep anything down. While in hospital, I would go to the canteen and watch people eating, but not be able to eat anything myself. Just think if you were that person dying for something to eat and all you can think about is food, but you have to fast for so many hours. Since I couldn't eat much, I was fitted with a tube up my nose (sounds horrible but you have to have what you need or die). It was a little machine fitted with a glass bottle which gave me everything I needed for nourishment. All that time I couldn't eat like a normal child, made me fussy about my food; now I know what I am safe with and what I like. I have sausages every night! Parents may seem unfair or not let you do things you want, but they will always help you. They feed you, they clothe you and they give you a home, but most of all they help you when you are hurt. My mum and dad sat with me day after day in the hospital, and watched me being pulled about, having all kinds of medical treatment I couldn't stand. I know first hand what parents go through when they see their child in pain. I'm sure that when I was diagnosed with the brain tumour, they thought I would not get through it. Can you imagine if your parents thought you were going to die?
Now you have heard from a real life cancer survivor, I hope my story has shocked you in some way into thinking about your own lives. Here I am a normal child but one who has had an awful journey in the start of his childhood. But I have also had something positive from it all in that I am more serious and thoughtful about life. It makes me behave better at school and work harder. Cancer has made me take a step back and look through the window of life at what is ahead of me.