The doctors gave me just a day to live

Natasha Applebaum was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2014 and has now set up her own business


A cancer survivor given a day to live has spoken about her journey to recovery — and how setting up her own scented candle business from her parent’s garden shed helped her bounce back.

Natasha Applebaum, 33, from Chigwell, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2014, a rare form of cancer that affects white blood cells with which around 800 people are diagnosed each year.

She underwent a biopsy after noticing a lump in her breast. “I was so shocked because I was so young and healthy. I had a very healthy lifestyle, worked out a lot, ate healthily,” she told the JC.

Ms Applebaum said she remembered the day “very clearly”.

It was a Friday evening and she had hoped to join her family for Shabbat, but her doctor stopped her from leaving hospital, where she remained for the next six weeks and was put on steroids, she said.

“He said it would be very irresponsible of him to let me go because I was very very sick. Later on, he told me I had a day or so to live because the tumour was so close to my heart.”

Ms Applebaum said she later moved back home and went into remission a month into her chemotherapy treatment, which she continued for over two years.

“I still had to follow this regime because the leukaemia cells can come back. That was quite difficult to get my head around,” she said, adding she struggled with weight loss, fatigue and sickness during her treatment.

The lowest point, she said, came two and a half years into her cancer journey when she hit a depression and would struggle to get out of bed and felt “really low.”

“I felt like I’d lost my identity. I had obviously very short hair. I looked different, felt different. I felt I’d missed out on a large chunk of life.”

Lighting scented candles helped her cope and she taught herself how to refill empty jars. “I was at home and I had all this downtime and it really lent itself nicely to exploring this hobby.”

As she began recovering, the pastime eventually grew into a lucrative hobby.

Ms Applebaum, who now works for a private equity company, said she receives around 10 orders a day from her business, Tash Tamar, launched three years ago.

She said she aspires to “become the next Jo Malone”, and that anyone can start their own business.

“You just have to have focus, dedication and determination. If someone is talented in a particular hobby, why not turn it into a business and earn some extra money.

“Just go for it,” she said.


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