I was 20 and life was fun-packed and full-on: playing international hockey, regional football, and studying to be a paramedic. Life at home with Mum, Dad and my brother was fun. And my future was full of possibilities. But that all changed when, out of the blue, I was told I had Ewing's sarcoma, a very rare bone cancer.
The chances of me surviving were incredibly low. So they threw as much treatment at me as I could possibly take: 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 40 operations.
The outlook was bleak. And although they never told me in terms of survival rates, I knew it was really bad. I thought the whole world had ended.
It was hard for my family
We're a really close family. Mum is a real fixer but she hid how she felt from me.
Only years later did she admit she would come home from visiting me in the hospital and weep in the bath in private.
Dad didn't know what to do with himself. My brother was there for me as much as he could be but they were all scared of what the future held.
Maggie's was a haven
It was my Mum that first suggested I went along to Maggie's, and pretty soon I was heading down there all the time. I would perch on my drip stand and skate down the hill to the centre.
I imagine the Maggie's volunteers who saw me coming would say, 'Who is this nutter?!'
Straightaway I felt I could ask questions I didn't feel comfortable asking at the hospital. They always had time for me.
Laura Lee and I decided that there wasn't enough support for young people. So we set up a young person’s group. It was for 18 to 30-year-olds, and we met once a month.
Sometimes we'd go out and have food or meet in the centre and chat. And that was a place where I made some lifelong friends.
It was somewhere you could go where somebody else was going through what you were.
I hated coming away from Maggie's. I used to sit there until the last person was going out the door. Once my treatment finished, I worried about what might happen next.
But Maggie's was always there. Even now, at 44, my visits keep me going.
Life after treatment was tough
When you finish treatment I think people assume that everything goes back to normal. But nothing went back to normal for me.
I watched on as my friends started to get married, have kids. You start to think – 'that should be me. I should be doing that.' In my 20s and 30s, I started to push people away as it was hard to compare their life and mine.
I met a guy who proposed but I turned him down. I thought, 'Why would you want to be with me? I've got all these health problems, I can't work now and there's a chance I could get ill again.'
There's nowhere else like Maggie's
I can't imagine what the world would be like without Maggie's. I certainly wouldn't be here. I've had so much support I probably wouldn't have made it to my five-year Mark without them.
Over the years, being able to call Maggie's or just pop in whenever I need to talk, has made such a difference to how I've been able to manage living with cancer.
I've had something like 40 operations since my initial diagnosis; when one operation left me in a wheelchair I spoke to someone from Maggie's every single day for three months.
At one point I was really suffering quite badly from depression. They got me through that phase. In fact, Maggie's has saved my life on a number of occasions. It may sound really dramatic but it's true.
So many people who have survived cancer, and loved ones of those who haven't, would be in a very dark place without Maggie's.
Maggie's has been here for 25 years. We need to make sure they are here for another 25 years and beyond.
Your legacy is powerful
Please consider a legacy gift in your Will to your Maggie's centre so that people with cancer can always turn to us for life-changing support.
If you'd like to talk anything through, please contact Natalie Joyce, our Legacy Manager on 07593 021 181 or email email@example.com.