Get to know Cerys. Part of her story features on the back of our collaboration Dr.PAWPAW X Teenage Cancer Trust Shimmer Balm and we continue to donate 15p from every sale to the charity to help them continue to be there for young people like Cerys, who are faced with cancer at such a pivotal time in their life.
Hey Cerys, we know a little bit about you already from your story on the back of our shimmer balm package, but can you tell us a bit more about your cancer journey?
My cancer journey did not go to plan. I got diagnosed at 13 with a rare type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma in my left shin. After lots of tests, scans, and appointments I began the chemotherapy part of my plan which after a number of cycles would lead to limb-saving surgery. After my second round of chemotherapy called methotrexate, I went into liver failure. I was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s liver ward. This is where I spent the next 12 weeks of my life as my body deteriorated more. My body was struggling and shutting down. I was being sick over 15 times a day, sleeping for 28 hours at a time usually and I started going blind due to the toxins being released from my liver. This was a scary time for me. I was discharged from the hospital being told they had done everything so now I would just have care from the community nurses. After a couple weeks of being home, my liver started to regenerate, and the focus moved onto to removing my tumour from my leg. At this point, due to how poorly I was, I had to make the decision to have my leg amputated at 14. Once I had recovered from this surgery and my liver regenerated more, I began a bespoke chemotherapy treatment. I completed this in March 2020 and have been in remission since May 2020. I have suffered numerous side effects from having all the chemotherapy and also have to deal with my liver condition for the rest of my life. I now have a prosthetic leg and am on the path to receive my blade.
You have been through so much, thank you for sharing your brave story with us.
Body confidence is a huge issue for a lot of young people, more so those whose bodies are going through changes due to cancer treatment- what helps, or helped, you on the days that you are feeling especially fed up with your body?
Constant body changes can be really hard to cope with, something which I struggled with. But I had my dad to help me with it all and show me that I had nothing to be ashamed of. This helped me a lot. So, what if my central line was showing or you could see scars. I got to the point where I didn’t care about any of it. Why should I be judged on it? On days where I was feeling down about my body, I would have allowed myself a set period of time where I could cry, be angry and have whatever emotions I wanted. After that period of time, I would come up with positives thoughts abouts my body, with what I was going through at the time this was really easy to do. This was a very good technique for me.
That’s amazing, and so inspiring you were able to compartmentalise as well as you did.
Was there a certain part of your body you have a love/hate relationship with? Or maybe a part you used to hate and now you have learnt to love?
Throughout my whole treatment my body changed so much, I developed lots and lots of stretch marks which I absolutely despised but I have learned to love them. My mindset changed on them due to how fantastic my body had been throughout everything. That I should be proud of it, it has achieved so much, and these stretch marks are part of my story/journey it just shows how amazing the human body is.
Love that! We hear you’re now getting back into your fitness and learning to do this with your prosthetic leg - tell us a bit about that journey.
My prosthetic leg has allowed me to do so much. I got my leg in November 2020 and by January 2021 I was walking with no aids! It was crazy how quickly I got used to it. Only a couple of months later I began a part-time job. There are some harder days to wear my leg if I have any sores or cuts especially early on into wearing it, however it does get better over time. I have now started the process for a blade so I can get back into running!
Awesome! - Is there anything you really love when it comes to fitness?
Before getting diagnosed I was a fitness wizz. I was running everyday and doing circuits multiple times a week. Running was always my favourite thing even if I never went very far, I still loved it! I cannot wait to get back into it.
On workout days and rest days - what are you go to health and beauty items?
I’m a teenager, so I have days where I have a lot of breakouts which can be extremely sore. Due to this I have to ensure that I keep on top of looking after my skin. I also have to look after my general skin as I suffer from dry skin since treatment and my favourite moisturisers to use on my general body is Vaseline moisturises for sensitive skin. For my face I use a Nivea moisturiser and sometimes different serums depending on how my skin is that day. As previously mentioned, I suffer from dry skin, this includes my lips which can be uncomfortable and sore. For this I use the Dr.PAWPAW Shimmer Balm and I love it, not only does it help with my lips, but it makes them look so lovely which I find difficult due to the state my lips can be in. Another product which I love to remove my dead skin is the Dr.PAWPAW Scrub and Nourish - the lip scrub, it removes all the dry/dead skin which makes the shimmer balm look even better!
Our 10ml Shimmer Balm helps support the lives of young people facing cancer. 15p from each sale goes directly to Teenage Cancer Trust. Shop here.
The Dr.PAWPAW team are raising money for Teenage Cancer trust by taking on the Tough Mudder Challenge. We're aiming to raise £5,000 and you can support us by clicking here!