“I was diagnosed when I was four years old, in December 1991. I was on holiday with my nan and my mum in Tunisia, and I was feeling very poorly. I can remember just being really swollen in my face and very tired and aching. I wasn’t eating much. My mum thought there was something up with me.
She took me to the doctor, and they said that I needed to be rushed home back to London to be seen. He thought I had leukaemia. So, we got a flight back and I was rushed straight into an ambulance and taken to St Bart’s, where I had all my treatment.
I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). That was kind of the beginning of it all. In terms of what happened next there are some bits that are really vivid. I remember the taste of medicines and bits and pieces. I had a Hickman line which is what I have a scar from. I can still remember having that in and being really aware of not knocking it and having dressings down on it and having my fluids through there and the butterfly needles.
There are little bits and pieces that I remember but over the years, obviously growing up, I’ve kind of blocked it out because it was such a trauma. I think over the years, as I get older, there are little bits and pieces that trickle back in.
What I do remember is the incredible doctors and nurses that were just like angels. They were there for my mum and then the family, they all worked so hard, as they all do now. They made sure that I was comfortable at all times. I understand now why I became an actor because I used to run about the ward as much as possible with my drip next to me and my bedpan and do Michael Jackson impressions and try and make the other kids laugh. So yeah, I was bound to do what I do now for a living.
I think because my diagnosis happened so early on in my life, I think it definitely shaped me. I started school quite late. I was like a year behind everyone at school. I didn’t have any hair. I was very skinny and shy. I was really nervous to speak to anyone, it really did knock my confidence.
But yeah, early years, being mixed race as well in a place that was predominantly white and coming from quite a poor background – it was very difficult. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters and then the leukaemia on top of it, it made me feel really alien to everyone. I’ve really just, got hold of myself and gone, “You know what? You’re so lucky to be around. You need to do this not just for yourself, but for everyone that suffered from it or is suffering.”
Early diagnosis saves lives.donate
We’ve welcomed Bailey as our new charity ambassador, here’s what he had to say about his new role…
“I feel extremely lucky to be in a position that I’m in and to have a platform where I am able to reach out to people that follow my career or watch my shows, and get the message across to those people that you might normally not be able to reach. I feel like I’m obliged to do it. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of the team. Hopefully, we can help raise awareness and change people’s lives and then show people that you can do whatever you want to do. This is the beginning rather than the end.”
To listen to more of Bailey’s story, listen to his episode of Leukaemia Chatters here.