Meet Eilish, diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, aged 15

Meet Eilish, diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, aged 15

Before my diagnosis, I was living a pretty normal life. I was studying for my GCSE’s and enjoyed spending time with my friends and family.
 
I was 15 when I first noticed a lump in my neck and went to the GP. From there I had several rounds of antibiotics, but when the lump didn’t disappear, I had an ultrasound and a biopsy, which came back as inconclusive. 
 
By this time, the tumour had spread to my tonsils, so the consultant decided he would remove my tonsils and attempt to remove the lump, which was unsuccessful.
 
Further lab results showed I had a rare form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stage 2.
 
The diagnosis came as a shock and I didn’t realise what a long journey I had ahead of me.
 
I had three months of a low-grade chemotherapy, which I reacted badly to. I ended up losing my hair, I had painful mouth ulcers and the chemotherapy completely depleted my immune system, so I had to isolate in hospital for a week. It was at this point I realised how serious chemotherapy was. Although it was meant to be killing the cancer, it was also making me incredibly ill.
 
A friend I had met during treatment then told me about Teens Unite. They had just signed up to the charity’s annual Activity Stay, so I decided to sign up too. Since then, I have taken part in countless activities, from theatre trips and Christmas parties to the Discover You event Teens Unite organises where motivational speakers deliver sessions throughout the day.
 
It’s hard to put into words how much I have gained from being a part of Teens Unite and meeting people who have been through similar things. It’s where I have met some of my closest friends who have helped me through so much and I can’t imagine my life without them.
 
My diagnosis stripped me of any confidence I had and when I first started attending Teens Unite’s activities, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. Now, Teens Unite are my second family.
 
They have helped me regain my confidence and accept what I had been through, to the point I have completed two of their overseas challenges to raise the money needed to help others in my situation.
 
In 2016 I cycled 350km around Sri Lanka, and in 2017 I cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia. I am so proud to be in a position where I am physically and mentally able to give back to Teens Unite after they helped me through such a tough time.
 
My hope for the future is to continue studying for my accountancy exams and become a qualified accountant.
 
This year is my eighth year in remission. To celebrate, my plan was to run eight half marathons in aid of Teens Unite, but sadly due to COVID-19, I only got to complete two of these. I plan to run the rest next year as a way of raising awareness and money for Teens Unite.

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