Olivia Deane hit the headlines when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at the age of 12 – this type of eye cancer usually affects babies and young children under six. Now 21 years old, Olivia has written a book about her cancer journey which she has kindly agreed to share on our blog. In the first chapter, she talked about her diagnosis. In chapter two, she reveals how she reacted to the news…
I didn’t want to speak about it really, it all kind of happened so suddenly that I felt empty and, honestly, just clueless.
Telling my friends was something I didn’t want to do, deep down I felt different to everybody and almost embarrassed about having cancer.
Not many young people understand the importance of life and death; I just didn’t know how to approach the situation. In fact I eventually chose to only tell my dearest and closest friends at the time.
After the news
The day I was diagnosed I still had such mixed emotions. I didn’t know whether to stay in or to go and enjoy myself, and just live my life as normal.
I knew if I stayed in I would dwell on things and panic when it wasn’t going to make me feel any better, so I decided to go out and meet my friends. I knew this would take the edge off things and I could let my hair down.
I began to enjoy the night and being around my friends however as it went on I just couldn’t focus on being happy, I knew things weren’t right and my life had changed dramatically; I couldn’t just pretend things were fine. Being there with everyone having so much fun and no worries just made it harder for me.
More so it made me come to the realisation that you just don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives and you should always be kind and not judge. Life is honestly too short.
I pulled my friend Harriet to the side, I explained to her I had a tumour in my eye and I needed treatment for it to avoid the worst case scenario of it being removed.
Harriet didn’t really understand, we were in a crowded room with music overpowering our conversation, we agreed to leave it so I could explain it to her properly another day.
My mum picked me up earlier then we agreed, I just didn’t want to be there, in ways I wanted to feel every emotion and deal with what was about to happen.
Talking to my best friend
The following day I went to my best friend Nicole’s house. We still stay in contact quite frequently now, we just don’t see each other as much.
She is such a caring friend and experienced so much with me, we were inseparable and did absolutely everything together, her family did so much for me and made me feel so welcome, as did mine for Nicole.
She knew about the appointment I’d had, however she knew as much as me at the time which was near to nothing, we both thought it wasn’t anything serious.
Together we sat in her bedroom and I started to explain my situation.
As soon as the word cancer came out of my mouth, Nicole was beside herself, she genuinely thought she was going to lose her best friend. Once I described the treatment I was going to have she calmed down and was more relieved that there was a cure for me.
Nicole’s mum was aware of what I was telling her, as my mum explained to her downstairs. Us four girls sat together and had massive cuddles. It felt good that I was loved so much and had all the support I needed.
Nicole helped me cope through the worst time in my life and I will forever be grateful for that, and I will make sure we will never fall out of contact for the rest of our lives because she really has played a big part in mine. She will always have a place in my heart.
As the week went on, I told my other close friends. Everyone was very upset but again happy there was treatment. Individual friends supported me in different ways, it really did make everything so much easier for me to deal with. I was never alone.
I actually never shed a tear from that moment on, my family and friends helped me see happiness in any bad situation I was facing.
Two weeks later, me, my mum and my nan took the train to Great Ormond Street in London to take on the next step of my journey….