Life Before Cancer

Sometimes it's genuinely difficult to imagine how I used to be, so I'll start from the very beginning. I'm hoping that it will all just flow naturally.

I guess being born is technically the very beginning, right? I entered this life on the 4th June 1991 at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, London. Here's a fun fact - it's the same hospital at which David Beckham and Jonathan Ross were born.

I grew up in Walthamstow, London, which I still call my home. I attended Oakdale Infants' and Junior schools until I was finally old enough to progress to secondary education. This lead me to King Solomon High, a Jewish secondary school in Essex.
Just one of many questionable hairstyles.

I'll be brutally honest. I was never one of the popular kids, nor have I ever been particularly sporty. I was the kind of guy who went to Science Club on a Wednesday lunchtime, achieved good grades, represented the school in almost every kind of academic boffathon and generally kept to himself.

My GCSE exams went rather well and this allowed me to 'upgrade' to Ilford County High for Boys, a grammar school in Essex. This is where I definitely learnt the importance of being sociable and having a group of friends to spend your Friday nights with. It definitely helped that I was the first to pass my driving test too, despite having one of the least trendy cars ever.
Lovingly hand painted with a roller. 

Moving forward, I was accepted to study Chemistry at the University of York. The next three years of my life were spent learning mathematical theorem and running around in a lab coat. York is a wonderful city to live in though, especially in the winter. It has that 'Harry Potter' feel to it, and there is never a shortage of warm pubs to choose from.
Three years of university, summarised in one shot.

One of the great things about my university course was that I could study abroad while carrying out a Master's research project. For some reason, I've always been good at Spanish, therefore I was shipped off to Seville, Spain, to continue my studies for the next 12 months.

Seriously, never had I enjoyed a city as much as I did Seville. It was so vibrant and alive. The summertime was very challenging though. For those who aren't aware, Seville has the nickname 'el horno de Dios' (God's oven) as the temperature is a constant 30-40C from May until October. This would be great if I were there to holiday, but it's not ideal for working or lugging your shopping back from the supermarket.
¡Ayyyyy, que calor!

At this point, there was obviously something very wrong with me. I hadn't picked up on the fact that despite a diet of deep-fried food and beer I was losing a lot of weight. I was also having terrible night sweats (a symptom of lymphoma) and had shooting pains down my right arm. Either way, I somehow trooped through and satisfactorily completed my studies. I graduated in the summer of 2013 with a Master's degree in Chemistry.
It's a miracle!

And that brings the end of this chapter of my story. A week after graduation, I underwent an MRI scan at Whipps Cross Hospital (the same place I was born if you paid attention!) and that revealed just how unwell I was...

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