'I'm aged 21 and suffer from aggressive bone cancer' - Norwich musician shares his story
PUBLISHED: 12:36 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 29 August 2018
Norwich musician Billy Clayton was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma - an aggressive form of bone cancer - aged 18.
Three years on and he is still battling the disease. Today, he shares his story on what it is like living with the disease.
He said: “To know that this journey still continues over three years later feels horrifying.
“Family members have said they would trade places with me if they could, but I’d never want this to happen to anybody.
“I first found out I had Ewing’s Sarcoma in August 2015.
“I had just completed my A-Levels and was awaiting exam results. I received a phone call from my GP one afternoon in July explaining that there had been some ‘tissue-problems’ found in my MRI scan results and that I would need to come into the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to discuss this.
“When I went to the appointment, I was told the news I had a sarcoma tumour.
“I didn’t register the news immediately, and I wasn’t aware at this point of what the process would entail. I remember believing it would all be over by the coming December.
“To put it bluntly, treatment has made me feel traumatised. I have had various forms of high-dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy and two major surgeries that have left me disabled.
“In terms of the impact it has had on my mental health, I often experience panic attacks when I’m not in hospital or on treatment.
“I experience significant depressive periods too.
“It puts a sense of impending doom into your day-to-day life when you should feel safe.
“The social seclusion and isolated periods have only added to this by giving me too much time alone with my worries and often no way to ease them.
“When your immune system is completely flat following chemotherapy, or you’re immobile for months after having bones removed, you can’t just go out for a walk or meet people for the sake of your well-being.
“Aspects such as changes to body image like complete hair-loss, surgical scars and radiotherapy burns have also been very hard to deal with.
“The belief that one day I will have the life I wish to have. The desire to have no need for toxic drugs or their harsh side effects, hospital stays or secluded periods [keeps me going].
“The thought of freedom and the career I have always wanted. In the meantime, I make music and create art when I want to which feels both rewarding and productive towards my future.
“I feel very stressed about the near future because it involves having further treatment which is both physically and psychologically very difficult. “However, I feel that I can put my trust into the treatment available at the German clinic I am fundraising to go to.
“The statistics are very impressive and the treatments are curated to suit you and your disease. It feels very progressive.
“It will be vital to saving my life. It will give me the opportunity to be cured of cancer.
“The treatments available in the UK for me are only palliative treatments that intend to extend my life for a limited period. Whilst my tumours have always responded well to treatment here, they have never successfully rid the disease from my body.
“Ewing’s Sarcoma is aggressive and fast-growing, meaning my time without this treatment is very limited.
“Receiving this breakthrough treatment in Germany is the only hope I have, so I need to raise this money to get a chance at life. I’m 21 and I have loads to do.”
• To donate to Billy’s life-saving cancer treatment visit www.gofundme.com/life-saving-treatment-for-billy