18-year-old Crystal is going through treatment for osteosarcoma, bone cancer, which grew on her jawbone. She is being supported by Sam Collins, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Here she shares her story.
"I’m going through treatment for osteosarcoma, bone cancer. It’s a rare cancer, and even more unusually, it grew on my jawbone.
"When I first found out I went online and couldn’t find much about it at all. I couldn’t find any positive stories, so that’s why I’m sharing my story here to give hope to others.
Giving hope to others
"Having a facial tumour is really tough, especially being a teenage girl. At first it was barely noticeable, but then it grew a lot. My whole face was swollen, and I was so self-conscious.
"Near the beginning when my hair fell out I had a wig that covered the right hand side of my face, because I hated people staring.
"My surgeon said that he might have to ‘take apart my whole jaw’, and ‘take my nose off’ to stop the cancer, and I was so depressed about it all. He was just so blunt about it, as he's not used to dealing with young people.
"After he told me I was like: 'Oh my gosh I don't want a prosthetic nose, I'll look like a freak'. But when I went down to the prosthetics department I saw some patients and you couldn't tell, they looked real!
Seven months of chemo
"I now understand that surgeons give you the worst case scenario so that it makes you ready and strong for anything shocking around the corner.
"I’ve now finished seven months of intensive chemo. I spent more time in hospital than I did out of hospital because I got a lot of infections, I couldn't eat, and I got dehydrated and collapsed. I lost a tonne of weight.
"But it has shrunk the tumour a lot, I’m almost back to normal. That means that I won’t have to have my nose removed, and the surgery won’t be as big as the surgeon said originally, which is a big relief.
"What really helped me psychologically when my face was so big was something my sister suggested - taking pictures of my face before then after each chemo.
"When I could see it reducing in size, I didn't mind so much, I started to look forward to chemo! I began to think more positively and accepted that if this is what had to happen in order for me to have a much longer life, then I would do anything.
"Now that my chemo is over, after the surgery and radiotherapy that will hopefully be the end of my treatment. Then the plan is to finish my performing arts course, go to university and become more of an advocate for people dealing with osteosarcoma and teenage cancer.
"This is one of my favourite quotes from the singer Sia: 'Live like tomorrow doesn't exist'."
Find out more
Find out more information about different types of cancer and how CLIC Sargent can help fight for you through your journey. Read about more young cancer patient's experiences in our young people's stories section.