Julia had Hodgkin's disease which is a type of cancer. It affects the lymph nodes around the body and can't be treated with surgery. It requires chemotherapy (which failed) and a stem cell transplant (which was initially successful). Julia had a second transplant which started to work but failed 5 months later. She then had monthly injections to control the cancer which her consultant partly attributes for curing her.

If you would like to donate money to help cancer patients please click here.

This diary is in reverse order so if you want to follow Julia's story from the beginning please start at the end of this page and work backwards.

24 May 2005
I've been a bad brother and neglected to update Julia's site for over a year! Julia has officially been cleared of having cancer, they couldn't find any in her most recent scans. This is a remarkable recovery considering she went from "a 10% chance of survival" to the picture of health that she is today. Julia will be celebrating her 30th birthday on 9th June this year.

14 January 2004
The results of Julia's latest scan came back today and there has been no change. This is good news because it means the cancer has been kept under control. Three cheers for Julia! (But we would be happier if she relaxed more and didn't rush around everywhere and go out nearly every night! Still, good for her that she has so much energy and zest!)

17 November 2003
Sorry for not updating Julia's diary for so long. The reason is because Julia has been "okay" for the past year although there have been ups and downs. In the summer the immune booster injections were giving her really bad side effects such as lumps appearing in various places (these flared up really quickly) and worse of all was a bad case of shingles. The consultant suggested she took a rest from these injections for a few months as it may have overloaded her body. During this time she's been okay and has helped McMillan out by appearing on the radio to talk about her story, going to the Houses of Parliament to meet MPs, giving talks at various events, and fund raising. Her spirit remains unbreakable which is the most awesome thing about her character. I know that other cancer patients read this site so please take conform from knowing that with the mental attitude equivalent of a 20 tonne steam roller doing 60mph downhill, the odds are stacked in your favour! Medicine is only half of the equation.

6 December 2002
As this page hasn't been updated for 6 months I thought it was about time for an update! Julia is doing well and living a fairly normal life apart from monthly visits to the hospital for booster injections and several hours on a drip. She's been really busy organising events for McMillan Cancer Relief including public speaking to raise awareness and fund raising with a very successful coffee morning and an upcoming party in London.

19 July 2002
Julia has been doing okay for the past couple of month. The booster injections seem to be keeping the cancer under control, but the side effects of each injection result in a day or two of flu-like symptoms, the worst part being she can't go out to the pub when she gets back from hospital!

16 May 2002
Update: Last month Julia was told that she had cervical cancer. I didn't want to mention that on Julia's website because I thought it was too personal and it may embarrass her. I was wrong, it's not possible to embarrass her! She had an operation which has hopefully dealt with it. (The cervical cancer, not her embarrassment!). Straight after hospital she was in a bar and had a mad weekend on a hen night of a friend. On 14th May Julia spoke at the Macmillan 2002 Rally at the Royal Institute in London. Julia says: "I met loads of people there but didn't get a chance to eat any of the amazing lunch and desert table. I'm now off to Corfu for a well deserved holiday!!!"

18 April 2002
Julia's doctor explained to her that they aren't able to cure her, but it's something that can be controlled and lived with. He explained that he has some patients who've had Hodgkin's for 10 years and by monitoring them, giving them booster injections and the occasional chemo sessions they can get by. In one way this is good news because we were all dreading the worst, we didn't know that something like Hodgkin's can be "lived with". Julia has been slightly reassured but in the long term there's this big question mark hanging in the air, so we're still searching for a cure and I'm sure one day there will be a much more effective treatment. Hopefully that day will be very soon.

11 April 2002
Julia had very bad news last week. The cancer has come back and the doctors say they don't know what else they can do. About a month ago Julia asked her doctor for a scan. The doctor said the transplant is still working and she only had a scan in December so she doesn't need another one. Julia explained that she really feels the need for another scan so they bowed to her judgment and arranged one. The results came back last week and they saw that the cancer has returned. She's had 2 transplants already and it's very unusual and dangerous to have 3 so we need to investigate to see if anything new from around the world can help. Tomorrow Julia is seeing her doctors for a discussion about the options available to her.

24 February 2002
Julia's site hasn't been updated for a long while - which is good news - it means she's doing well! At the moment she's doing some work for Macmillan Cancer Relief. They've asked her to speak at a rally in London in May which she's looking forward to. They took some photographs of her to appear in a publicity campaign - red hair included! We'll try to publish the pictures on this website providing we can get permission to do so. Julia is still going to Hammersmith regularly for check-ups.

23 December 2001
Julia with pink hairYou're never going to believe this, but Julia has coloured her hair pink! I'm not talking about a few pink strands, this is all-over pink hair! Dad loves it and surprisingly mum does too!

Julia and all of the Fentons wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!


14 December 2001
Julia's good friend and press advisor, Michelle, went with Julia to the hospital yesterday to take notes. This is Michelle's report on what the doctor said. Thanks Michelle!

Michelle & JuliaJulia has proved all the doctors wrong by going into complete remission. This means that the results of her PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) were 'negative'. The scan showed no sign of cancer cells in her body. This type of scan if very reliable. When Julia was being scanned she had a bit of a nap but she must have been quite tense because the scan showed all her shoulder muscles tensing up - the doctor explained that this was nothing to worry about.

Although her platelets are not at a normal level yet (what is ever 'normal' about Julia!), the doctors are over the moon with her progress. She can come off some of her medication and this might help her platelets return to a normal level.

Against all the odds, Julia has done amazingly well. As Julia's cancer was so aggressive and has come back in the past, the doctors want to do what ever they can to prevent it coming back again. If it does come back at stage 3, it might be difficult to treat because Julia has had such high doses of chemotherapy in the past. They did explain that new treatments were being invented all the time. If it came back in just a localized area, then it can be zapped with radiotherapy. The doctor said that if the cancer did come back it would probably not be localised and could go straight to stage 3. We are all keeping our fingers crossed and are hoping this is the last of those nasty Hodgkin's cells.

In addition to regular CT scans and check-ups, the consultant has been thinking about ways to prevent the cancer returning. He has suggested a treatment called Interleukin-2. This will be administered once a month in a low dose injection for several months. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is a protein made by the body. IL-2's main function is to signal cells of the immune system to become active and reproduce. By boosting Julia's immune system in this way (Bionic Woman!) it is hoped that any new Hodgkin's (cancerous) cells would be fought off immediately before they could cause any trouble.

There are some side effects of IL-2, that could happen in the 24 hours following the injection. This could include flu-like symptoms - high fever and aches, but this seemed relatively minor to Julia who has experienced many worst things in the past. This treatment has been beneficial for other cancers and the consultant has seen some research that suggests it could help in Julia's case. He did not state the dosage used in the successful cases.

The consultant will meet Julia in a few weeks (after her trip to Florida) to start the IL-2 injections. He has given her the green light to colour her hair pink - to her brother's horror!


Current Symptoms: none

Treatment Info:
Julia's first treatment against Hodgkin's disease was chemotherapy, specifically ABVD, and was put on a clinical trial called LY09. The last line of treatment (where chemo alone has failed) is called a stem cell transplant (see here for Q&As) which is proven to be better than a bone marrow transplant. Julia completed the first stem cell transplant in May 2001 and had her second transplant in August 2001. The transplant worked for 5 months but in April 2002 a scan revealed it was no longer working. She is having montly injections to boost her immune system to help control cancer growth.

An alternative treatment is available ("alternative mediciine") called the Gerson Therapy. There are no clinical trials that prove this method is better than conventional treatment. There's a small article about it from the National Cancer Institute and a better overview can be found here. I originally tried to convince Julia to give this a try first, but in retrospect I think I'm pleased that I failed. Chemo may be potentially dangerous but at least statistics show it provides a real chance.

About Me

Previous Updates:

13 December 2001
Brilliant news today! Julia is in remission!
This means the cancer has virtually gone! We're all so happy and thankful - not bad considering earlier in the year she was given a 10% chance of survival. Michelle went with Julia to the hospital to take notes of what the doctor was saying - because Julia can never remember what was said! Mum and Dad and over the moon at the moment with this good news. Dad even spent 10 minutes chatting to me on the phone!

12 December 2001
Julia is waiting for the results of her PET scan. This is the highly detailed test that will let us know what's going on inside her body. It's taken the doctors well over a week to analyse the results so we're praying for the best...

22 November 2001
Julia had a brain scan today and the doctor said everything is fine. Her blood count is good too so we're all happy. Julia has been going out every night with friends and is having a good time. She deserves that and is certainly making the most of her "good health". Yeah, I had to put that in quotes to indicate "as healthy as can be under the circumstances".

19 November 2001
Last week Julia was away in Spain on holiday. One minute she had an urge to go away and two days later she'd caught a plane with a friend! I received a text message saying she's having a great time and has been to two stag parties! As you can tell, Julia is feeling well and we thank God that she's enjoying life as she always had. Julia's brave face and amazing spirit is sometimes deceptive - she's not out of the woods yet so please keep her in your prayers.

20 October 2001
A PET scan has been booked for Julia in December. This is a very detailed scan that takes up to 2 hours to complete and will give the doctors a very clear picture on how Julia is doing.

13 October 2001
Julia was released from hospital on Thursday but went back in again on Friday for a scan which was brought forwards by a week. This scan is to find out what the cancer is up to and if it's gone down or spread. The results, Julia was told, would be available next week. The doctor phoned Julia last night to her surprise and said that he had to tell her the results before the weekend. There has been a decrease in the amount of cancer and the treatment she has received is working. They want to scan her again in 3 months to find out if the treatment will continue to work - the treatment is still working inside her right now, even though the transplant and chemo was 8 weeks ago. We're so happy that this is positive news, but Julia isn't counting her chickens just yet. Please keep your fingers crossed and pray the effectiveness of the treatment continues in this direction. Well done Julia, keep fighting it, girl!

9 October 2001
A higher than normal temperature and loss of appetite has brought Julia back into Hammersmith hospital. She was told to go to A&E yesterday and was waiting from 3pm to 8pm to be given a bed. After all that waiting she wasn't given any treatment so she just went to sleep (but had a bad night). The doctors want to monitor her for the next few days to make sure that she doesn't have an infection (or that it goes away for good). Last week Julia had her hickman line taken out so blood samples and treatments need to be done via needles which Julia hates - as you can imagine. Please don't buy her any food/sweets until she's got her appetite back which we hope will be soon.

30 September 2001
Julia has spent the past 4 weeks at home going back to the hospital at least twice a week for blood transfusions and platelets. On arriving back from a day out in Brighton to visit our great aunts yesterday, there was a message on the answerphone from the hospital saying they have found an infection in Julia's latest blood test and she had to go to A&E immediately. Julia went there today (and waited hours on a trolley) and they finally said her hickman line needs to come out because it may be harbouring the infection. It was late in the afternoon by then so they decided she should come back tomorrow rather than stay there overnight (Julia hates staying in hospital!). They haven't given her any antibiotics yet so we just have to hope that whatever they do for her tomorrow catches the infection in time before it gets worse.

2 September 2001
It's been touch and go over the past few days because Julia's count has been going up and down. The good news is that they're letting her out today! She'll have to watch herself very carefully for the next couple of weeks. It's up to all of Julia's friends and family to make sure she doesn't go out of the house, especially to pubs or anywhere there is a crowd of people as she is many times more susceptible to catching germs than the average person. Thanks to everyone for their support. Julia will be scanned in a week or four (?) so we'll keep our fingers crossed for good news.

29 August 2001
Julia has this to say today:
"I got a day release yesterday to go to my Grandma's funeral which was a nice surprise for people. When everyone left the house to go to the funeral I raided the fridge and had my first meal in 10 days! Most of my close friends came to pay their respects which really pleased me and mum. I was really happy to see my great aunts from Brighton, they're the coolest! Yeah, older people can be cool too! I want to thank Claire for switching off the dishwasher during prayers. I'm trying to be really good now now because I might be able to get out by Monday - these 4 walls are driving me mad! I don't hate anyone today, I'm actually in quite a good mood and love people (especially good looking ones) and animals (especially good looking ones)." Oops, editing error - on purpose of course!

25 August 2001
Julia insisted that I put this message up on her site: "I'm fed up with people! I'm having a 'I hate people day'!" Sorry everyone, Julia is annoyed with people who don't read messages on this site and still phone her up at the hospital. I know you all care, but she says she can only take a certain amount of "how are you feeling today?" questions before blowing her lid. Other than that, she's feeling a little better today. Please don't take any of this personally, she's just very fed up and frustrated at the moment.

24 August 2001
Dad and I visited Julia today to break the news about Grandma Hannah (see yesterday's update). She took it worse than we thought so we stayed with her for a while. Julia's breathing has got slightly better which is the good news. She's allowed outside of her room now but doesn't have the strength to wonder far and still has pain. Please continue to send letters or cards via mum and dad and restrain from phoning her until she's ready to talk to people again. Thank you everyone for your support.

23 August 2001
I'm very sad to say that our Grandma Hannah (Susan's mum) passed away at about 9pm. She had a major stroke a week ago and didn't quite regain consciousness. Julia had this brilliant idea of taking familiar objects to the hospital to place into Grandma's hand. She responded to a couple of objects and moved her hand to feel them. She even opened her eyes for a couple of seconds. We thought she was going to make progress, but that never happened. She was 87 years old. We all love her so much and will never forget her, she was the perfect grandmother. It would be impossible for Julia or I to think of anything we could have changed about her. Our consoling thought is that she wasn't in pain and at last can be together again with Grandpa Jack after 11 years apart.

22 August 2001
Unfortunately Julia hasn't improved and is still very uncomfortable and has breathing difficulties. She's being given blood transfusions and platelets but as far as I'm aware they haven't treated her for water on the lungs yet, I'll have to ask what they're doing about this next time I speak to her. Julia sends a big thank you to Keith and Mary for the pooing cow, Julia thought it was very funny! She asks all of her friends not to phone or visit her until she's improved. She's very frustrated and short tempered so please don't call her. It's also very difficult for her to answer the phone due to the pain she is suffering in her chest and upper body. If you wan to let her know you're thinking of her please send a card to mum & dad who will pass it on. Julia likes cards, especially funny or rude ones! Thank you for understanding.

20 August 2001
Julia hasn't had a good few days. Last week her shoulder swelled up and this weekend she's had breathing difficulties. Her eyes are red and swollen and the doctors think she has water on the lungs and also an infection on her Hickman line. She's very tired and uncomfortable. They scanned her today and hope to have some results soon.

16 August 2001
Julia is still in hospital and is doing okay. We expect her to be there for another 2 weeks. Thanks to everyone who's visited or called her or bought her a gift. It's best not to buy her chocolate because she can't eat it at the moment and there are certain rules covering what foods she can eat, so please check first. Sorry I haven't updated this page for a week but there wasn't really any news. Julia seems to be coping better this time around. Oh, her hair started falling out so she took a pair of clippers to it and she's hairless again. It grew back really nicely as well.

9 August 2001
Nothing special to report today. Julia is doing okay. Dad is making her Breville toasted sandwiches every day. He's also making them for her visitors and all of the doctors and nurses! I think he likes his role as chief toasted sandwich maker!

6 August 2001
Julia had her second stem cell transplant today. It went well so now we have to wait several weeks to see how Julia does. The next 3 weeks will be very critical for her as her immune system goes down to zero (literally) she will be in isolation soon and susceptable to the slightest germs. We took her out to Pizza Express on Sunday for a pre-transplant lunch. The doctors said it would be okay providing we took her back in the afternoon. She was very good - we didn't have to handcuff her!

31 July 2001
Julia went back to Hammersmith Hospital on Monday to begin chemotherapy in preparation for her second stem cell transplant. Just as her hair is growing back she will have to see it go again. At least she can enjoy it for a few more weeks. Julia welcomes your phone calls and text message at the moment because she's bored. If you have any good videos or can spare 20 minutes to brighten up her day she'd be pleased to see you, but you must call and ask if she wants visitors first. Thanks!

28 June 2001
Good news. Julia's doctor has confirmed that the cancer has shrunk to half the size it was before. Although this hasn't been a cure (as there is no cure for cancer), it shows that the transplant had a positive effect so a second transplant should also produce positive results. There may be lasting side effects of going ahead with a second transplant but Julia is a brave girl and is willing to go for it.

22 June 2001
Julia had an imporant scan at the hospital on Wednesday. The results will be available on Monday, but today the doctor called Julia to say that his initial impression is positive. There appears to be an improvment, but we won't know by how much until Monday. The doctor will go ahead and schedule a second stem cell transplant for her within the next 4 weeks. Well done Julia! So far so good. Perhaps all those vodka jellies helped?

10 June 2001
Julia's School Party was excellent! Everyone dressed up in school uniform and joined in the the games and ate jelly and ice cream! Thanks to everyone who came, Julia was thrilled to see you all enjoying yourselves. Expect some photos to appear here soon.

9 June 2001
It's Julia's 26th birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! We went out for lunch to celebrate and she's having a party tomorrow.

7 June 2001
They let Julia out of hospital today.

6 June 2001
Julia is staying in hospital for another night for observation. Doctors think she may have got an infection, but they're not sure so they're just being cautious. Julia feels okay though.

5 June 2001
Sorry there hadn't been an update for a while but Julia had been at home and keeping well. In recent days she felt very tired and she suspected she needed another blood transfusion. No one at Hammersmith would help her when she phoned (the cancer ward said she's nothing to do with them anymore and haematology told her to go to A&E) but she managed to persuade them to let her have a blood test. She sat waiting in the hospital for 5 hours for a simple blood test and was then told that they won't give her a transfusion. Julia then contacted Northwick Park hospital who managed to find a bed for her tonight where she is currently receiving a transfusion. The staff at Northwick Park are fantastic. Apart from that Julia is very lively and full of smiles and mischief.

Julia made a new friend when she was Hammersmith a couple of weeks ago. Melissa had Leukaemia and very sadly she passed away the other day. Melissa had tried 3 transplants but unfortunately they didn't work. Julia had spent some time with her while in hospital talking on the telephone. Julia brought some happiness to Melissa in her final weeks and hours with her humour and smiles. We are all very sorry about what happened to Melissa and our thoughts are with her family and friends. God bless you, Melissa, now you are at peace. x x x

30 May 2001
Julia is behaving like she used to - normal in her book, a bit crazy in everyone else's! ;-) Her scan has been scheduled for late June, so please keep your fingers crossed for her. I still think it's strange or amazing how she can be in isolation one day and two days later she's out by herself shopping! Only Julia I tell you, only Julia! :-)

22 May 2001
Just to prove there are kind-hearted strangers out there in the big bad world, Julia had a taxi ride today and chatted to the driver about how she is going to buy some TVs for the other cancer patients in the hospital. On reaching her destination the driver gave Julia a handful of money to buy a colour TV for the hospital! Later, Julia visited an electrical store to buy 2 TVs with built-in VCRs. They said they can order them for next week. Later they phoned Julia to say they made a mistake and they won't have any at all, but if she buys 3 TVs they will give her 3 VCRs for free! So that's what she did! (Please note we're not asking anyone to give money, this is just a simple story Julia told me which warmed my heart).

20 May 2001
Julia was released from hospital this afternoon and sent home! Actually she was asked to move back to a shared room with 3 strangers but she persuaded the doctor to let her go home. She has made a very quick recovery from the treatment which has totally surprised the doctors. We don't know what's happened to the cancer until she gets scanned which is obviously our main concern. The doctor wants to wait a while until they schedule a scan but from past experience Julia's cancer is resilient and grows back quickly. It's important to get the scan done as soon as possible to show if the treatment has been effective otherwise if we wait several weeks the cancer could grow back and the doctors would conclude that the treatment had no effect on the cancer. Julia is not allowed out of the house and is still susceptible to germs so she won't be clubbing or pubbing just yet!

13 May
This is another message from Julia: Hi everyone! I've been kept been very busy in solidary confinement with some great company from some great friends. Dad has gone a bit mad and bought more helium balloons, I'm just waiting for them to start leaking then I'll start to sound like a choir boy. I'm really missing the outside world. If anyone can smuggle in a bag of fresh air I'd really appreaciate it. Dad's feeding me well. I'm living off Marks & Spensor's take-away food. Strangely enough I was assigned a dietition because they expected me to lose 2 to 3 stone during the experience, but of course I do things differently. I've gained 3 lbs this week!

I'd like to say hello to Linda & family in Ohiho. Thank you very much for my card - it's been amusing everybody. I send you a big hug and my love. Rona, I ope you're still coming over because I really miss you and I send you and your family a big hug too. Auntie Beyna, thank you very much for my pressies. They've brightened up my room and made me smile. Big hugs and love! Begonia, thank you so much for asking after me. I do miss you and would love to see you again and I send you and your family all my love and have a wonderful time un Euro Disney.

9 May
This is a message to everyone from Julia: Hi guys! Everything is really cool at Hammersmith. The doctors are pleasantly surprised by my well-being although they insist I will get an infection while I'm in isolation. I told them "bugger that!" I don't have time for an infection! For those of you that haven't seen my room, I've called it "my little council flat". For those who have seen it you know why I've called it that! I haven't made any friends from Wormwood Scrubs next door (it's a prison!) but I'm trying my charms on the workmen below out of my window. Thank you for all your messages, cars, phone calls, etc, and I look forward to seeing you all soon. I send everyone an individual big hug. If you have any messages for me then email them to Gary please.

4 May 2001
I went to see Julia on Thursday night after her transplant and she was doing really well. The doctors warned her that her appetite would drop and she'd lose 2-3 stone in weight but she's actually been very hungry and hasn't lost any weight which is good. The doctors are surprised at how well she is doing, she really is quite inspirational. It won't be for another few weeks until we know how effective this proceedure is, although she's not out of the worst yet as the chemo is still yet to take effect. (It's taking its time which concerns me as it's not normal to be so well after such an intensive treatment). With luck and Julia's fighting spirit she'll see this through.

2 May 2001
Julia is having her transplant on Thursday to put the good cells back into her body as she has finished the chemo therapy for now. Please can you refrain from calling her for now as this is a crucial time for Julia as she doesn't know how she is going to react to the transplant. Julia says that she wishes with all her heart that she can speak to friends over the next few days, but she can't guarantee it. She wishes to thank all her friends and family for their support and enthusiasm and she wants you to send her some dirty cards! Julia says Hammersmth holds high standards for extremely fit doctors. Unfortunately they're all married (she's checked!). A special "hi" and hugs goes out to Rona & family from Julia.

27 Apr 2001
I went to see Julia today and she has her own isolated room at Hammersmith. It's a bit like a hotel room with TV, video, fridge, and en-suite bathroom. She's been on intensive chemo for 2 days now and remains chirpy, well, and very upbeat. Dad was there too and we had a good laugh with Julia making the most jokes and pulling funny faces as she does! She had the results of the tests they did last week to find out why she had a seizure. The MRI scan was negative, the lumber puncture was negative and the X-rays were negative. Julia said to the doctor "so does that mean the cancer has cleared up?" Julia's sick sense of humour is a good sign that she's doing okay, but we get the feeling that some staff take Julia seriously as a twisted sense of juvenile humour is the last thing you'd expect from a cancer patient. That's my girl! :-)

23 Apr 2001
Julia saw a lot of her friends at the weekend which made her very happy. Now she's back at Hammersmith and will be there for the next 4 to 6 weeks. She's feeling well and is in good spirit. The high dose therapy starts on Wednesday so please keep your fingers crossed and think good thoughts for her.

20 Apr 2001
Still at Hammersmith, Julia is feeling quite well today. She even got dressed to come to the restaurant for a proper meal. They're letting her out on Saturday until Sunday evening when she must return for treatment to start the following day. She can't be let out for too long otherwise they'll give her bed away to someone else. If you want to call Julia then you will have a small window to do so this weekend - if she's not sleeping - but please keep your call short as she had bad trouble sleeping at the hospital. Thanks.

17 Apr 2001
Sorry for the delay with this update. The problem Julia had last week was worse than I was told. I'm not sure of the exact details (test results pending) but Julia had to be resuscitated. The good news is that Julia recovered and a few days afterwards she was much better. Today she was walking freely between her hospital bed and the day-room and was fairly chatty and in good spirits. She says it's strange but she feels much better now than she did before her close brush last week. The doctors want to bring her high dose therapy treatment forward to commence on Monday.

11 Apr 2001
Julia had a bad day yesterday when she went into Hammersmith Hospital as a day patient and ended up as an in-patient. Julia had a blackout and a small fit so they had to keep her in for tests. They scanned her to try to find out what the problem is. At the moment she's "comfortable" but I'll report back as soon as there's any news. Please try not to phone mum or dad as they are exhausted with all the driving to Hammersmith, the worrying and keeping a full time job (or 2 in my dad's case!). You are welcome to call me instead. Thanks.

5 Apr 2001
Yesterday Julia went to interview her new doctor at Hammersmith Hospital. He's a very nice man and carefully explained everthing so even dad could understand it. It came down to 3 options for treatment:
1) Do nothing (some patients say they have had enough by this stage)
2) Try more chemo using different drugs
3) High Dose Therapy with stem cell transplant
The doctor said option 3 was the best but it does carry risks, especially at a point where Julia's immune system hits zero and becomes open to any infection which could become fatal. He gave Julia a 25% chance of a successful treatment which is 5% higher than the previous doctor gave. Julia is going in on Tue/Wed as a day patient to have her cells harvested and frozen. The high dose chemo will begin a week later.

30 Mar 2001
Hoorah! Julia is at home now, but she hasn't been let off lightly. The doctors gave her several bags of medicine and syringes which she and a district nurse must regularly administrate. Julia is seeing her new doctor at Hammersmith on Wednesday and will probably become an in-patient a week later.

28 Mar 2001
Julia is currently in Northwick Park Hospital being prepared for a stem cell transplant next week at Hammersmith. This process involves giving her more chemo and then removing stem cells through a machine which are then frozen. She's then given an extremely high dose of chemo which will destroy virtually all white cells, bone marrow, and hopefully the cancer cells. At this point she will be highly prone to infection. Her stem cells will then be returned to her where they should regrow and new white cells and marrow will be produced.

22 Mar 2001
Julia started having really bad headaches at the weekend and was re-admitted to hospital on Wednesday. I saw her last night and she wanted me to put a message on the website saying "The bitch is back in Byrd!". Byrd being the name of the hospital ward. The latest scan is not good and shows there is no change in the cancer despite an intensive run of chemo a couple of weeks ago. The doctors said the only chance is an extreme dose of chemo but they need to check that her kidneys are up to it first. More news as I get it...

16 Mar 2001
Julia has made a remarkable recovery. Her stigma appears to have gone and she's walking without crutches - even though a doctor remarked it was more like waddling! Her appetite is in full swing, but she's gone off chocolate because the drugs have left a bitter taste in her mouth. She has another week at home and then she's back on chemo, but the doctors hope they can do a small course this time around depending on the scan she's having next week.

11 Mar 2001
Good news! Julia was let out of hospital on Friday and is now recovering from the mystery brain disease at home. She needs crutches to help her move about and gets tired by doing the most simple of tasks. If she's up to continueing the cancer treatment the doctors will probaly ask her to come back in next week. Although Julia is at home please don't bombard her with phone calls. She's not taking any visitors so please don't pop in on the off chance. Sorry to sound rude, but Julia needs space and peace in order to recover.

8 Mar 2001
Julia was a little more chatty today and I stayed for about an hour before she got tired (of me?). They put the Hickman line back in the same place as the old one which was strange because even the doctors originally said not to put it back in the same place because of a risk of re-infection. She's going for physiotherapy every morning to help her walk again and get her co-ordination back. I told her that having a lack of co-ordination isn't that bad - after all, I''ve muddled through with my poor sense of fashion and it's done me no harm! :-)

6 Mar 2001
Julia had a new Hickman line put in today. She's not in any pain as the anaesthetic seems to be more potent while Julia is weak. Before she was ill it took an elephant dart to knock her out! Hopefully they'll let her out at the weekend for a few days.

3 Mar 2001
I bought a hot French bread pizza to the hospital at Julia's request and before I could get the knife and fork out of the bag she had grabbed the pizza and dug in using her fingers! I'm not sure if this is an accurate way to benchmark her recovery from the mystery virus, but I was rather thrilled. She says the doctors confirmed it was a brain disease but they don't know what it was exactly, but they think it's going away and it looks like there won't be any long lasting damage. They're going to attach a new hickman line in a few days. (That's the tube that fits into her chest for taking and delivering chemo, blood samples, and other fluids).

2 Mar 2001
I wasn't able to visit Julia tonight but mum and dad told me she was doing okay. She's still not up to receiving phone calls or visitors so please hold back on contacting her for a little while longer. If you want to send flowers then please don't send them to the hospital as Julia is in the infectious diseases ward which disallows flowers. Sorry, but rules is rules.

28 Feb 2001
Things are looking better. Julia ate two small helpings of dad's cheesy mash potato for dinner and kept it all down! She's even watching TV now which is another promising sign of improvement. She had another lumber puncture today - this is when the doctor takes a sample of spinal fluid - ouch! I asked her if she had a message for your friends reading this and she says "Merry Christmas! I look forward to going to everyone's wedding engagement party. No, I'm not disillusional, I'm just getting back to normal."

27 Feb 2001
As if by magic Julia seemed a lot chirpier today. Okay, she's a thousand miles away from being her old self but this was a noticable improvement. She made some jokes and even laughed which was rewarding for mum, dad and me (Gary) to see. At least she's going in the right direction now. I just hope it's a perminant improvement. The doctors still don't know what kind of infection she has - 3 weeks after she reported it. Julia sends her love to everyone who reads this on the Internet.

Symptoms: Sore eyes, poor co-ordination, sweating, poor appetite, sore legs. This is not related to the cancer, but to a mystery virus which the doctors were unable to identify. The sore legs are from being stuck in bed for over 2 weeks now.

24 Feb 2001
A couple of weeks ago Julia started getting really bad headaches and she's been in hospital since then. The doctor's have no idea what this mystery illness can be. They've tried all kinds of tests (lumber puncture for one) and sent slides and samples away to other doctors and labs around the country, but so far no one knows what this virus is. It has nothing to do with the cancer but at the moment it's really taking it's toll on poor Julia. She's crying and her spark has gone out. We've never felt this low. She's very sensitive to light so the curtains are always drawn and the lights never go on. She has double vision and can't stand noise either. We have to whisper or not talk at all.

Summer 2000 - This is the start of Julia's story
Please read this first and then continue the story from the diary entry just above this one. The events written in this entry summarise what happened before this website was created and before she was diagnosed. The finer details have been omitted as it would take too long to read!

Julia had always had good health. She was very active and loved singing, dancing, and occassionally appeared in theatre productions. Julia was working for a PR company in London. It was very stressful for various reasons and Julia had never experienced this level of pressure or unhappiness in her life before. Several months into the job she started coughing a lot. It soon become a nasty hacking cough that didn't want to go away, it just got worse. She didn't want to go to the doctor because, well, she's a bit of a battle-axe in character and would rather ignore things like coughs and colds and just get on with things. It wasn't until she noticed a lump in her neck that she realised it may be a little more than just an ordinary cough.

Thankfully she went to the doctor's who referred her to our local hostpital for some tests. She had a biopsy to remove the lump and it was soon confirmed that she had cancer - Hodgkin's Disease - at it was at the rather late stage of 3b. The news was a major shock for everyone. Julia has always been an unstoppable character and it seemed nothing could ever stand in her way. Suddenly it was like a solid steel door had slammed closed and the room was plunged into darkness. We couldn't see further than what we had just been told and we couldn't help think the worse. My dad never cries and it was a sign of our pain, disbelief, and uncertainty when we saw him shed a tear.

Julia started chemotherapy treatments at Northwick Park hostpital. There's a 85% chance that this would be successful. She was told that she may lose some hair but that didn't happen at any point during the course of the treatment. A scan at the end showed that unfortunately there had been no improvement so it was decided to give her a different chemo treatment and increase the dosage. She had her hair cut short as the doctors said this time she would definately lose her hair. As the dosage was stronger and she needed to be on various drips for long periods of time they had to keep her in hospital. Lots of friends visited her over the next couple of weeks. I don't think there was a moment I was there when at least one of her friends wasn't! As a side note it's interesting to see who your real friends are as one of her "best" friends didn't bother visiting. On the flip side, a few people who Julia didn't see much were suddenly there for her giving moral support and those important little visits just to say "Hi".

Anyway, after a series of treatments Julia was allowed home. To continue please travel up the page and read the entry above. This is only the start of her story!

A Theory on Cancer
After a lot of research on the Internet I developed a theory as to why Julia, a strong and active girl, would develop cancer. I think everyone has the potential to develop cancer and quite often cancerous cells appear in the body, but thanks to a functioning immune system the body quickly rids itself from frequent manifestations of rogue cells. When a person is placed under a lot of stress for a period of time their immune system weakens. Unhappiness can also weaken the immune system and it got to a point where the body could no longer defend itself from new cancerous cells. As they multiplied so too did the requirements for the immune system to deal with the advancement of the cancer.

I also think that the first symptom - the hacking cough - was brought about by the immune system not being available to fight a simple cough because it was too busy fighting the main battle with the cancerous cells. My unprofessional advice to anyone worried about the potential of getting cancer is to limit the amount of stress in your life. Also try to enjoy life as much as you can. Not just because it's so precious and you're only on Earth for a relatively very short time, but because simply being happy can benefit your immune system.