I was 19 years old, had finished school and left 6th form with 3 A-levels. I was spending the year looking for work and thinking about going to uni the year after my year off. During the winter, like any cricketer, I started indoor winter nets and I started to get pain in my left knee. At the time I thought nothing of it and just thought it was wear and tear from running on a hard surface, especially as I hadn’t done much physical activity since the season ended. After a few weeks of resting, the pain was still present and if anything, getting worse. I decided to go to my GP to get looked at, and they referred me to have physio.
After about 6 weeks of physio the pain showed no sign of disappearing and started to get worse. I was taking painkillers everyday to help with everyday walking until one physio session, where I was told to start going to the gym and start running to get moving. I then decided to go for a jog, which only lasted a few strides as the pain was unbearable. After this, I told my dad what the physio had said and that I could barely walk anymore. My dad then booked an appointment for me with a private phyiso he knew from his rugby playing days.
I went on a Monday to the physio called Steve Cannon, and Steve took one look at my knee and said “You can’t run on that, I’m not going to touch it, I think you should have an MRI scan”. At this point, Steve could only speculate about what it was, and he said that it was most likely cartilage damage from training after a long spell of not training. I was told that keyhole surgery was most likely which I wasn’t too bothered about, as long as I got back on the pitch playing again. We were told by Steve that we had 2 options, have a scan on the NHS and face a possible waiting time of 3 months, or pay £280 and have one done the following week. This was a no brainer for my dad and I, he paid the £280 and on the following Monday I had my scan.
We received a phone call the following week from the GP saying the results of the scan were in, and we booked an appointment for me to see the doctor about it. I went on my own as both my parents were in work. When I was with the doctor he told me that the results weren’t in and that me and one of my parents should come in a few days time. So me and my mum came in the following week to be told that there was a lesion on my tibia and that it could be nothing serious at all or the worst case scenario. I was referred to see a consultant in the Gwent were I had a x-ray where we saw the lump itself and he told us about having a biopsy in Birmingham Royal orthopaedic hospital. He also warned me that, the lesion could be eating away at my bone and making it weak, which could result in me fracturing the tibia and gave me crutches as a precaution. This was on a Wednesday, on the Saturday while watching my cricket team play, while walking, I fractured my tibia.
On Monday I was on my way to Birmingham to have the biopsy on the Tuesday and I was home Thursday. The following Tuesday, we had the phone call telling us that the biopsy showed that the lesion was cancerous and that I had osteosarcoma which is bone cancer of the tibia. I was then referred to see my oncologist in Velindre. He explained the chemo regime and what the possibilities would be - either I had surgery to remove the knee and the shin bone and have it replaced by a metal pole, or have my leg amputated. Even at this early stage he said that the most likely one would be amputation, and I said that I preferred that, because the cancer would of been gone with the removal of the limb and there would be no chance of it coming back. Also, with the metal implant, there a risk of infection, the cancer coming back and I’d have to have it removed and replaced every 5-10 years. I then took part in tests to see if I’d be able to cope with chemo and took part in sperm banking in case the chemo made me infertile.
The first 2 months of chemo felt like years, I was sick, wasn’t eating, I fainted twice and I lost 2 stone in weight, it was terrible and I’d never wish it on anyone, no one deserves it. I went to Birmingham after my first 2 cycles in a 6 cycle course to see the consultant and to have a MRI scan on the tumour. We had a meeting after the scan, and the consultant said that I would have an above knee amputation. He told me that I didn’t look strong enough to have the operation, and that I should have a 2 week break from chemo then have the op. During those 2 weeks, I started eating and feeling better, but nowhere near my usual self. I went up on Tuesday and had the op on a Thursday. I woke up in recovery and I felt cheery and happy and felt more like my usual self, joking and talking to the nurses. After about 15 minutes I was taken back to my room and, to my parents shock, I was sat upright in the bed talking to the porters, "a completely different boy to the one a few weeks ago”. I felt like a massive weight was of my shoulder and I was free from cancer. I was just so happy and cheery, after 40 minutes of being in my room, I turned to my mum and said “I’d kill for a McDonalds”. And as requested, I had one and ate every bit of it, it was the first meal I enjoyed for a long time.
The day after the op, the physio’s in Birmingham had me up on my crutches. I then came home on the Tuesday after my op and I had 2 weeks off at home before starting my chemo were I had 4 cycles left over 4 months. I came back to the TCT unit in Cardiff and the nurses said I was a different person, talkative, happy and just my usual self. The chemo this time round didn’t effect me half as much as it did first time round so it was a lot more bearable. The count down towards the end of chemo left like months but it was totally worth it.
My attention then turned to physio and walking again and looking to getting back on the pitch playing cricket again, which has been my goal since I was told about the possible options regarding surgery. At the current moment, writing this, I'm walking without support around the house and walking with just 1 crutch in public.
We are currently fund-raising for a specially designed artificial leg with a microprocessor in the knee which will enable me to turn and twist. These cost upwards of £30,000. To play cricket again would be a dream come true because its always been my goal through all of this. My ultimate goal is to represent England in the physical disabled side.