One of the hardest things to explain to friends and family is why the treatment of leukaemia requires so much time in hospital.
The reason is the chemotherapy is targeting the bone marrow, wiping out all the cells that shouldn't be there. Unfortunately this results in all the other cells the marrow makes being disrupted.
This means that no more platelets, or white and red blood cells, are produced. On the ward your blood is taken each day and the amounts of each of these cells are recorded. They are known as your counts and you quickly become obsessed with them.
Post-chemotherapy your counts come crashing down. This means regular transfusions of platelets and red blood cells are required.
Sadly your white blood cells cannot be replenished in the same way. The marrow makes a variety of different white blood cells but the ones we're concerned with are called neutrophils. When the counts hit zero it is known as neutropenia. This means your immune system has no bacteria fighting ability.
Counts can take between 10 and 20 days to recover so during this time you are extremely vulnerable to any infection and have to stay on the ward.
As Christmas time fell upon us, one of my best friends on the ward became seriously ill. He could barely move or speak for days and because he is such a character normally it was extremely upsetting to see, especially at that time of year.
On the ward you can develop strong bonds with your fellow patients. Often you have to alert the nurses with your emergency buzzer if for whatever reason they are unable to press it. You learn to keep an eye out for each other.
I contracted a mild infection a few days later but it was far less severe than his. As soon as you get a temperature the doctors begin treatment with antibiotics and thankfully these were sufficient to cure me. But I learnt it can be much worse. Some patients would have to have a catheter inserted and be taken 'upstairs' to the high dependency unit.
What was also scary was realising just how quickly people could go from being seemingly healthy and in just a few hours be completely knocked out.
Christmas was a sad time for me only made brighter by my family, friends and the nurses. I remember waking up on Christmas Day and two of the night staff had decorated special pillow cases and put our names on too. Inside were chocolates and a Satsuma- it was a fantastic gesture that really cheered me up!
As someone who loves Christmas and everything it stands for I found it a particularly difficult time in my treatment. I watched midnight mass from Liverpool Cathedral on my little television and admit I had a small lump in my throat.
In the nights that followed I often felt myself sinking into sadness. Night times were always the worst because I don't drop to sleep easily, leaving too much time to think.
If I'm being totally honest, I don't think death is something to be scared of, I see it very much as a natural part of life. Leukaemia is a strange condition because although there is much to be hopeful of, dying is always a possibility and although I'm not fearful of that, I do find the disease carries a lot of potential sadness that I am unable to shake off. Thinking about how devastated my family and girlfriend would be is very difficult.
For many nights, and still to this day, one image I can't get out of my head is watching a film of my own funeral. The sequence is always the same. The camera follows the coffin as it is brought into the church and then pans around to my parents who are inconsolable and both crying loudly.