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A student who was given just a 20% chance of surviving cancer has beat the disease, and is now training to be a doctor.
Ellie Waters, 21, was just a teenager when medics discovered a melon-sized tumour on her left buttock.
After gruelling cancer treatment – which saw her go through menopause at just 15 years old – Ellie was declared cancer free.
Inspired by the ‘superhero’ care team that saved her life, Ellie vowed to become a doctor too – and now, she’s making her ambition become a reality.
Ellie, from Kettering, said: ‘When I first told people I wanted to be a doctor after surviving cancer, everyone was a little shocked, as I’d already spent so much time in hospital myself.
‘The staff at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, effexor withdrawal symptoms list where I was treated, became my role models. They were like superheroes, flying around the wards looking after people, I knew I wanted to be part of this.’
The sports-mad teen was just 14 in September 2015 when she found a lump on her buttock.
She initially thought she had pulled a muscle during a charity run, and was originally too embarrassed to tell anyone about it.
But when it grew rapidly and she began to experience other symptoms while exercising – such as chronic constipation, weight loss and pain in her left leg – she booked a GP appointment.
Ellie was later diagnosed with stage four alveolar ahabdomyosarcoma – a rare form of soft tissue cancer, and given only a 20 per cent chance of survival.
Ellie, who has a twin sister Olivia and four other siblings, said: ‘When I was diagnosed, it was my mum that had to break the news to me.
‘At the time I was scared as I was only 14 and didn’t know that much about cancer apart from it could kill you.
“Chemo was awful. I was constantly sick, and my hair fell out.
‘Having cancer as a teenager is so tough because you want to be able to do all the things your friends can like go to parties and you can’t.
‘It’s suddenly taken away from you.’
And when it came to her perspective on life, even as a teenager, things change.
Ellie said: ‘Before my diagnosis, I was obsessed with The Apprentice and wanted to make lots of money and enter the corporate world.
‘But after having cancer this all changed.
‘I became obsessed with wanting to become a doctor and would research my treatments. I was constantly watching doctor programmes on the TV.’
Following a grueling 18 months of intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Ellie defied the odds and beat cancer – but started to experience hot flushes, difficulty sleeping, fatigue and itchy skin.
When her period failed to return six months after being cancer free, she was shocked to be told she had entered early menopause.
Ellie was put on HRT to control her symptoms.
She said: ‘I was told before my treatment I could become infertile as it was very invasive, but at the time I didn’t care. I was in survival mode and just wanted to beat cancer.
‘I have had time to process it now and would love to adopt it in the future, as there are so many kids in the world that need a proper home.’
After her treatment, Ellie went back to school where she still managed to achieve three A*s in her A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths.
She says that despite her loved ones initial concerns about her chosen career, they were happy for her.
‘I think they worried that it may be physically or mentally draining for me as I would have lots of memories from being treated in hospital,’ said Ellie.
‘But when I got my A Level results and was accepted to all four of my university choices, they were over the moon and knew it was the right profession for me to work in.’
Ellie is now in her second year of a medicine degree at Keele University, and plans to become an obstetrician or gynecologist when she graduates.
She says: ‘In my first year of medical school, I found it very difficult to not compare myself to others.
‘My side effects from cancer and menopause are all quite invisible, so a lot of the other students on my course don’t even know I have them or even had cancer.
‘I have learnt that a good amount of sleep, a good routine and prioritising my mental and physical health is also the best thing to do.’
Now five-years cancer free, Ellie, is determined to specialise as a women’s health doctor after she graduates.
She added: ‘I am very interested in women’s in particular because I have experienced things at such a young age which most women don’t.
‘My infertility and early menopause has sometimes made me not feel like a woman, and I have had to redefine what being a woman means.
‘I cannot get pregnant so I hope to be there for my patients, and go on the journey with them if I become an obstetrician or gynecologist.
‘Going through menopause at 15 has also opened my eyes to vaginal problems which are very common for women to go through and I want to show them they should be talked about.
‘It should not be embarrassing or a taboo subject to talk about what is going on down there.’
And Ellie has a reminder for anyone that notices something different or new in their body.
She says: ‘When I found my lump, I was too embarrassed to go and get it checked out because it was on my buttock.
‘But I would say to everyone who notices a lump or change in their body to 100 per cent go and see a doctor.’
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