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"When the doctor left the room there were buckets of tears. my mam kept a diary and the word 'devastated' comes up a lot"

> Colin Reid is 15 years old and lives in Kilmore, Co Wexford, with his parents Sheila and Tony. He has two older brothers, Alan and Niall, who both live in Australia. He began to feel ill in 2011 and was diagnosed with cancer two months later.

In September or October 2011, I had an annoying pain in my lower back, but I didn't take too much notice of it as I assumed it would just go away. But as I was going on a skiing trip with my school in January 2012, I went to see my GP who initially prescribed some anti-inflammatories. But the pain got worse and started to spread to my right leg. So, on December 1, 2011, I went to A&E in Wexford General Hospital. I was admitted, which was a shock because I didn't feel sick, I just had a pain in my back and leg.

I was sent to Crumlin the following day where I had blood tests and X-rays. Then, on December 8, I went for an MRI scan and my problem was diagnosed. They discovered I had a tumour on my lower spine. It was called a Myxopapillary Ependymoma.

My mam and dad were told first and then together with my doctor and a nurse, they told me. The doctor explained it very well, with diagrams. My memory of that time was when the doctor left us in the room on our own, were "buckets of tears". My mam kept a diary of everything that happened and the word "devastated" comes up a lot.

 

Complication

I was told that I would need surgery and it would have to be carried out in Beaumont Hospital. I was so scared and mam and dad said the time I was having surgery was their worst day. But it went well and on Friday, December 16, I was let go home,

However, there was a complication and I had to go back to Beaumont. I needed another operation. I was in for two weeks after this surgery, which meant I was in hospital for Christmas. I was discharged again and had to go back two days later with further complications, but no surgery this time. My mam and dad stayed in Dublin, throughout the whole thing.

My two brothers spent Christmas Day with us in Beaumont and I have a lot of relations in Dublin and they were brilliant. I was in and out of hospital for about two months. The type of tumour that I had was rare for my age. The medical team have adopted a "wait-and-see" policy and I go to Crumlin for regular check-ups and MRI scans.

The hardest part of it all was being told about the tumour. Also, I was confined to bed for Christmas Day. Missing the school skiing trip was hard also but maybe I'll get another chance.

At the moment I am doing really well and the experience has taught me to appreciate things more. I know that even though bad things can happen at any time, I can get over them. It also sparked an interest in medicine as an occupation in the future. I'm doing my Junior Cert this year and looking forward to Transition Year next year. I'm hoping to go skydiving to raise some money for CanTeen, a charity and support group for teenagers who have or have had cancer. And when I'm 19 I would love to volunteer for Barretstown as a helper.

My advice to anyone who has just been diagnosed is to stay positive. Let people know how you're feeling, there are good days and bad. Keep talking and think about joining CanTeen. It's been a huge help to me.


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