In 2016, Ally was a young woman in her twenties with a full and busy life. All that changed when she was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a rare and incurable autoimmune disease.
I had a chat with Ally to find out her story.
Hi Ally! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what your life was like before you developed a chronic illness?
Hi everyone, I’m Ally. I’m in my thirties and I live in Wales. Before I became unwell, I was working in a demanding corporate career, regularly putting in 40+ hours a week. I had a busy social life and I loved going out. I burned the candle at both ends!
How did you find out you had a chronic illness and what’s your diagnosis?
Back in 2016, as a young woman in my twenties at the time, I started to get a niggling pain behind my ribs on the right side, and I went to the doctors about it. They tested for some stomach problems and sent me for a chest x-ray. The x-ray revealed something on my right lung, so I was sent for an ultrasound scan to check my liver and spleen. Soon after, I was at work when I received a phone call from my doctor asking me to go in to see her straight away. I left work and drove straight to see her, where she told me that as well as seeing something in my right lung, the scans had also revealed lumps and that I needed an urgent CT scan. Once I had had the CT scan in the morning, my doctor rang me by lunchtime and asked to come and visit me at home. I then thought the worst as doctors never visit at home! It was a really scary time as everything was happening so quickly! My doctor was a wonderful lady and she came that night and told me I had cancer.
That was a horrendous night, as you can imagine. Seeing the pain and grief on my family’s faces is something I won’t ever forget! Over the next four months, it was a really testing time. I underwent further tests, scans, biopsies, and medications. I felt so low, I was emotionally and mentally drained. I also turned 30 the day after having a spleen biopsy so I felt totally out of control and that nothing was happening how I planned it!
I eventually received a diagnosis. It wasn’t cancer. I had sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune disease that can actually mimic cancer.
That sounds so traumatic Ally; what happened next?
I was offered to go back on steroid treatment or immunosuppressants, but due to being at a family planning age and wanting to try and manage my overall health, I declined both and opted to manage symptoms myself. My ongoing symptoms include pain and extreme fatigue. I had a great consultant who looked after me very well. I am also under the Sarcoidosis clinic in Oxford. I have tried hydrotherapy, steroid injections, counselling etc. I was very supported after my initial diagnosis and we tried to manage the symptoms more holistically.
How do you manage your symptoms? Did you take a holistic approach?
Yes, I did. I now meditate daily, and I started gratitude journaling. I’ve also had lots of therapy to help me come to terms with my condition and move forwards. My mental strength has been the one thing that has had the biggest impact on my journey. I also use an acupressure mat, will have acupuncture when I can, and I try to eat well and nourish my body. I also have to pace myself and control what I can and let go of what I can’t!
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with a chronic illness?
To get support. Find someone you can lean on in hard times and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Lean in to how you feel, process it, and then move forward. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. Each day will be different but lean in to how you’re feeling and ask for support. In time you will be able to manage your symptoms better and be grateful for what you have. You have to go through the darkness to find the light.
Can you tell us how your life looks now?
My health continues to challenge me as in December I was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain aneurysm which needed a 5-hour operation and 2-week stay in hospital. However, I have learnt to appreciate every day, make the most of what I have and cherish the moments. Life is short! So when it rains, look for the rainbows, and when it’s dark, look for the stars!
Whilst I was poorly, I used Pinterest as a form of escape. Not only did I love it, but I also learned about how to get the most out of Pinterest, how the algorithm works, and how powerful it is as a platform. I now run my own business as a Pinterest Marketer, Educator and Coach, helping women entrepreneurs and businesses use Pinterest to increase their traffic and convert their leads to sales.
Where can we find you online?
You can check out my website, www.allydavis.com, or find me on Pinterest. I also hang out on Facebook where I run The Pinterest Club, a free group for people who want to learn more about Pinterest. I’m also on Instagram and LinkedIn.
If you want help learning to tune into your body, the Weekly Wellness Tracker can help you identify the triggers that are affecting your physical symptoms so you can make changes to feel better quickly.
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