Four of my friends, Tom Wesley, Matthew Nichols, Joe Daniels, Ben
Oakes and I will be partaking in the challenge of cycling 100 miles from the town of Bury St Edmunds, to the east coast of England, Southwold, in two days. This, will be a challenge you will never forget. Why? Well ...
It’s not a word people feel comfortable hearing or thinking about, but sadly seven people aged between 13 and 24 are diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK.
Consequently, many young people every year are forced to deal with the gruesome reality of cancer, without the proper support they need.
The Teenage Cancer Trust fund makes cancer treatment in young people more bearable, and offers the right support for young teens battling cancer. When cancer becomes lonely, depressing, and sickening, the TCT are there to help.
Our dearest friend, Lily Anderson, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in October 2012 – this is her story.
‘I was diagnosed with cancer at fourteen, with stage four Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in my lungs and mediastinum. Everything seemed to slow down and I was no longer me anymore - I hadn’t even had any “proper” symptoms, only unexplained chest pains and weight loss! When I was told, it was awful- I cried for hours, and telling my friends family was the worst thing I had ever had to do. At that time I was afraid for my life- but when it came down to it, losing my life to disease just wasn’t an option for me. I felt like my whole world had apart right in front of me- though my friends were all brilliant, and fundraising immediately for me. A few days later, I was in a four hour operation to get a piece of that large tumour in my chest. While they were in there they inserted a long tube into a vein called a hickman line- where they would administer my chemotherapy and any other IV drugs I needed along the way.
Though it was painful I got through it and started my first round of chemo on Halloween. I ended up losing a whole stone in weight from throwing up so much, and could barely move from the sofa I was so weak. I made up for the weight loss in the next few months, gaining three stone and becoming puffy and sore from the high dose of steroids I was on. Unfortunately, my cancer journey was then made harder by the fact I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy- a form of temporary nerve damage. I was in agony all the time, and confined to a
wheelchair for months, including when I was on radiotherapy. Though the doctors had said it was ‘easy’, radiotherapy made me as sick as chemo had and I had to be admitted to hospital again. After the radiotherapy, though, I was free of treatment and I finally got the chance to recover properly. I was in a wheelchair for a few months but made my way to crutches and then splints and finally back to normal (ish). Some parts of my feet are still numb because the nerves aren’t great, but it’s better than not being able to walk- so I’ll take it. I went back to school and took up my GCSE’s- diving in with enthusiasm and a newfound drive to succeed and show to everyone that I wasn’t just a sick teenager anymore.
Unfortunately, only six months after I had been released with good news, I ended up back in the same horrible situation as before. It might have come back - but they had to wait a month and take another scan, they said. I didn’t react well to the news- and did as any upset teenager would do, got a bit drunk, broke a toe, and ended up in A&E. It was a tough month, and I couldn’t think of anything else, and when the scan finally came round and I went in for the results- I was told that it had returned. I had the lymphoma back in my chest, lungs and abdomen- the shadows they had thought were just leftover scar tissue turned out to be cancer. I started chemo again and was very ill all over again, puffed out but I had lost a lot of the weight from last time, so things weren’t as difficult. I felt very alone, but the ward I was on was wonderful and I made a few amazing friends who were all in the same position as me, and understood everything I was going through. After four months of chemo, I was allowed a month off before the big part of the treatment- a stem cell transplant. I used the brief period to spend time with my friends and family and even had my birthday- which I spent at the zoo with all my friends. The stem cell transplant was horrible- I had to spend a whole month in hospital and the chemo was so strong that it wiped out my immune system completely, causing me to get several infections one after the other. The other thing that chemo does is cause the mouth, throat and lining of the gut to become sensitive, sore and thinner. I couldn’t eat or drink and had to have a tube put down my nose and into my stomach. It was awful, and I was in so much pain that I just wanted everything to end. We aren’t always so brave and strong, and I think I had never wanted to give up more than in those few weeks. Finally it did end, and my three month scans have been clear. I’ve been in recovery for five and a half months now, and bar a couple of horrible of nasty chest infections- I’ve managed to stay away from hospital. I’m glad it’s over, and strangely I wouldn’t trade the experience- I’ve learnt a lot, and met so many amazing and inspirational people on the way, and I think I’m a better person. Hopefully now I can just continue to get better and better, and live out the rest of my life knowing how lucky I was to have survived it all.’
Lily’s story is both heart-breaking and inspiring, so please support us now and give what you can for this amazing cause.
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