I was married in 2007, aged 25. Children were absolutely part of my Plan A. I’d grown up in a small, but close family and wanted the same for our next generation. My marriage ended a year later, so my plans to settle down were put on the back burner and instead I focused all of my energies on Plan B - climbing the career ladder in the job that I loved. It paid off, for a while...

Diagnosis 

In June 2011, aged 29, I was diagnosed with transfusion dependent Non-Severe Aplastic Anaemia with a PNH clone. My body was all of a sudden unable to produce enough blood to keep me alive; I was seriously ill. Plan B came to a shuddering halt. Now what was I going to do? I didn’t have a Plan C…

I spent a year in and out of hospital, I had two rounds of (rabbit) ATG treatment and the usual cocktail of drugs to go with it. I gained almost a stone in weight.  When I returned to work, somebody looked at my swollen stomach and asked if I’d been off to have a baby. I just laughed and said, ‘No, I’ve been on steroids, they make me fat!’. The baby bit was part of Plan A. Plan A was long gone.

My life over time and now

In the 8 years since my diagnosis. I have fought many battles. I won the most important one and achieved remission from Aplastic Anaemia. I have since relapsed but am working hard to beat it again. I guess that  turning my focus inward and doing whatever it takes to become healthy again, has become my unplanned, Plan C.

Focusing on my recovery over the years has meant that Plan A and Plan B took a back seat. Here I am at 38, without the family of my own or high-flying career that I thought would be a ‘given’  before my diagnosis. I now question whether that life I had planned was ever meant for me in the first place.

I recently took some time out to reflect, recharge and refocus.  During this time, I made a conscious decision to stop wasting time on opportunities lost to Aplastic Anaemia, instead focusing on living life in the here and now, with a smile on my face, gratitude in my heart, and absolute faith that the path I am travelling, is the right one.

Chronic illness of any kind is a hard road. Some days are better than others, sometimes I look at those around me and for a split second, wish I was walking their path instead of mine but then I stop and think...HOW LUCKY AM I?

  • I may not have a my own family unit but I have the most wonderful family and friends supporting me, including my two beautiful nieces, Lola and Darcy and my gorgeous puppy, Raphy. All angels sent from heaven. Who else in the world is lucky enough to have a team like mine?
  • I may not have the career I expected but I have a job that I love that affords me the flexibility I  need to keep my work/life balance in check plus an employer who makes me feel valued irrespective of my condition.  How many others have the privilege of working in such a supportive organisation?
  • I may not be able to travel abroad but I have a beautiful world right on my doorstep and fully appreciate every sunrise, sunset, walk in the countryside and visit to the beach. Who else is lucky enough to see North East England (!) through my eyes?
  • I may not have the energy to do much exercise but I have the time and space to practice yoga, qigong and meditation daily as part of my quest for balance, wellbeing and ultimately, recovery. How many others have the luxury of doing that for themselves every day?
  • I may not yet have achieved remission for a second time but I have the best medical teams at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough and St James’ University Hospital, Leeds looking after me. Who else in the world is lucky enough to have our amazing NHS?

There is positive in almost every negative, if only you open your eyes. A few years ago, I read a quote from a fellow Aplastic Anaemia patient (name unknown) on an online forum, it resonated deeply and will stay with me forever:

 I cannot chart the path that life lays out for me, but I can command the grace with which I walk it.

 My hope for the future is that, whatever my path, I walk it with grace, gratitude and my team beside me.

Blog by Lisa, fighting aplastic anaemia