Elise's Story - The Next Chapter

Elise's Story - The Next Chapter

Hi! I’m Elise and I’m currently 20 years old. This is an update from my last story, so I won’t go into too much into detail about my journey, but in 2013 when I just turned 11, I was diagnosed with a Malignant brain tumour called Medulloblastoma. I used to be a competitive swimmer and it was through swimming that I discovered that something wasn’t quite right. 

I went through an intense treatment at The Royal Marsden in Surrey. It consisted of radiotherapy and chemotherapy for the first phase and then just chemotherapy in the second phase. It was a very hard time, and I was quite lonely as there wasn’t anyone my age to talk to and my current friends at that time didn’t quite understand. I was very conscious of my appearance as I lost my hair along with weight to the point where I almost had a feeding tube. It wasn’t the easiest of journeys, and cancer took away my chances of becoming an Olympian, but it did give me a new direction in life, which I find just as thrilling. I finished my treatment in April 2014 and had scans after for a few years after which were always clear. I have been in remission ever since.

During hospital stays, I didn’t feel like doing much, I kept myself busy by being creative and making bracelets for the nurses and Loom band creations as they were the craze at the time, and I think this led me to be an even more arty person as I decided to choose Art and Photography for GCSE’s and A Levels, which I passed with flying colours. After A-Levels I decided to focus on Photography with a Foundation Diploma at University in Art and Design, and to my surprise, I achieved a Distinction which myself and my family were so proud of. It just proved that cancer doesn’t stop you from achieving anything. 

I am now onto my second year doing a Digital Photography Degree course and have already worked my way up to achieving a few A’s, which I couldn’t be happier with. As I said previously, before being diagnosed I wanted to be an Olympic Swimmer, but my path had changed to something I had never thought I’d end up doing, and I am just as proud of myself achieving what I am now as I was when swimming. I have made an amazing friendship group at Uni who are very understanding of my limits, and we have the best times together.

My creativity even ventured into starting my own business a few years ago, with knitting and crocheting products such as hats, dolls, dog accessories and so much more. I have been able to fund some parts of my Uni course, like being able to buy cameras and accessories, because of this. I have always been a crafty person but even more since treatment.

I don’t have as much confidence as I used to, but over the years, I have been building it up and this year, I decided to take part in Teens Unite's Activity Stay. It was a great decision as I had an amazing time participating in all the activities and meeting new teens who shared the same thoughts and similar experiences to me. My favourite moments were getting to know each other in ice breaker games and the mini sports day along with the Go Karting and Bell Boating. I made some great friends who were easy to connect with and I look forward to seeing them again during future events.

Having cancer hasn’t stopped me from becoming the best version of myself, and it won’t stop anyone else from achieving their goals. In fact, it’s made me stronger and a more mature person. There is always a positive thing that comes out of an experience, even a negative experience and mine has been a new path to an exciting future. Teens Unite has been part of my journey for quite a few years now and I am glad that I discovered them as I became part of a community that is inclusive and caring.

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