coming out

cancer &

Our founder, Charlotte with her girlfriend Francesca at London LGBT Pride

I knew I was gay at the age of 13. Scared of these new feelings and for fear of being bullied at school and at home I buried these feelings away.

This denial and hiding the person I was continued for years. I’d suppressed myself so much that I no longer knew or liked the person I had become.

13 years later my life performed an almighty summersault In March 2015, after 2+ years of mis-diagnosis and being told by GP's that 'I was too young for anything serious to be wrong' I was diagnosed with lymphoma. The cancer was so advanced that a 10 cm tumour had grown in my abdomen, a tumour in my neck and one was sitting snuggly behind my heart, it had also spread to my bone marrow.

Upon further investigation, I was told my cancer was incurable.

Faced with the possibility of dying you face some hard-hitting thoughts and question. What had I achieved, what would I be remembered for? These thoughts plagued me. The cancer diagnosis shook me - but what upset and terrified me more was the thought of dying having not been in love, not truly happy and not being the person who I truly was.

Facing an unknown future I felt determined to live life. The cancer diagnosis had unleashed an unfathomable strength within me and I felt empowered to be me and so I came out to my friends and my family. There was no reason for me to fear coming out - the people I loved, loved me no less and if possible they loved me more for being honest and true. After I came out, they told me they noticed change in me, they said for the first time in so long, I looked happy. Fear and rejection that I had self-manifested had kept me from coming out and for the first time in so long I felt utter relief.
 

It shouldn't have taken a cancer diagnosis for me to come out but I’m now embracing life, love and me. If I’d written a bucket list, ‘to love and be loved’ would have been right at the very top and I am pretty damn lucky to be have to have ticked that off.

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Lymphoma Out Loud is a registered charity in England and Wales. Registered charity number 1174665.