Meet Lucia, diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, aged 22

Meet Lucia, diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, aged 22

Life in my early 20s had been adventurous and I didn’t let anything stop me. Sure, I had a few dips on the way where things didn’t exactly go to plan mainly thanks to COVID but, the Summer of 2021, I was determined and optimistic that my life would change for the better. My life did change, but not the way I planned it to be.

My cancer all started with a cough. At first, I thought it might have been allergies, but the cough never went away. A week later, a lump appeared on my neck. Still, I was in denial of it being anything serious, I thought I might have been feeling under the weather. Of course, if it went away, I wouldn’t be here writing this story. Three months passed and the lump in my neck increased in size. It was only then did I make the decision to book an appointment with the doctors.

After two months of various scans, I finally had a diagnosis. On December 22nd 2021 at the age of 22, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 

Those 11 weeks of chemotherapy were probably the most rock bottom I have ever felt. I felt lonely due to COVID causing restrictions on socialising with other cancer patients; I felt frustrated due to the lack of energy to complete any activity and in light of all this, I felt unhappy. 

That is how I came across Teens Unite. I remember reading their slogan “Nobody likes the ‘C’ word” on their leaflet which resonated with all the negative emotions I was feeling. So, I thought I would bite the bullet and sign up. I needed a distraction from all the medical environments. I needed something that would make me feel normal again. 

Since I joined, I felt like a different person. I became happier, more motivated, and most importantly, less lonely than before. Even though I still didn’t have the energy to do the same things as I could before, the activities that I did with Teens Unite, gave me a sense of achievement. Even after treatment was over and I went into remission, Teens Unite pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me feel confident. If it wasn’t for them, I would never have faced my fears of loop the loop roller coasters, I would never have climbed the O2 and faced my fears of heights, I would never have gone Go Karting or Rock Climbing (which I still am very much scared of and will not set foot on a climbing wall for a long while). 

This year I had the opportunity to attend their summer Activity Stay which was one of the highlights of my year. I met so many different amazing people who had all gone through a similar experience to me, who I could laugh and joke with about cancer and the treatment we had all been through. You get to do so many different activities which challenge you positively. It is so amazing to see people blossom from the start to the end of the Activity Stay becoming much more confident in themselves. I can’t believe that within only a few days you make some of the greatest friends.

It has been five months since I finished my treatment and while I had hoped things would go back to how they were before I became ill, unfortunately they haven’t. But I have learnt, that is okay, and you aren’t alone in feeling this way! I am still coming to terms with going back to a ‘normal’ routine, but just because you have finished treatment, the support doesn’t suddenly end. I always know that whenever I need support, Teens Unite will be there even when things are getting better. 

Cancer shouldn’t dictate your life; it is only a hiccup which makes you stronger after you overcome it.  

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