Meet Tamieka, diagnosed with Breast cancer, aged 22

Meet Tamieka, diagnosed with Breast cancer, aged 22

Going through a mastectomy at such a young age was tough – but I just wanted to get the cancer out of my body. Everything was made harder with Covid-19. Noone was able to accompany me in the hospital, I had to go through it all on my own. I remember sitting there trying to be so strong waiting to go down for my surgery, but I just couldn’t stop crying. The worst-case scenarios were going through my head, and I was so scared that I wasn’t going to wake up. 

At that moment I heard my nan talk to me – she passed away in 2017 and was a Christian. She always used to say, “Put your trust in the Lord”, and hearing her voice saying those words is what got me through. 

I was in and out of surgery in a day; I recovered reasonably quickly from the operation, but I was bracing myself for the treatment ahead. The doctors were very honest about how the chemotherapy could make me feel, and I was dreading getting started. I had six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy. When life was starting to get back to normal for everyone around me after the pandemic, I felt so isolated and alone. Everyone had been so supportive, and my friends were great, but I had such a low immune system, and I was too exhausted to socialise. Everything just came to a stop for me. 

My social worker told me about Teens Unite when I was first diagnosed. She told me about digital and face to face activities and said I should get involved. I didn’t know what to expect but joined the online sessions. I had never met another person my age who had been diagnosed with cancer and it was so reassuring to know there were other teenagers and young adults out there like me. 

This Summer, I attended Teens Unite’s Activity Stay – I was so excited to go and just be with people after spending so much time on my own. The last-minute nerves kicked in, but I thought if I can get through treatment and surgery, I can do anything. Everyone there was so lovely and it’s crazy how quickly we all bonded and encouraged each other with the different activities. We speak on Snap Chat all the time! 

Cancer is not a nice thing, but Teens Unite is a breath of fresh air, I have made friends for life and the Activity Stay rebuilt my confidence. I’m now looking forward to starting back at university in a couple of weeks and completing my second year. 

I am also due to start my training with the Samaritans – I have received counselling myself at a time when I felt really lost. I didn’t know who I was and I was only thinking about the physical impact of cancer, not the effect it would have on my mental wellbeing. I would love to be able to help others in the same way that counselling helped me, and I’m really looking forward to getting started. 

I still get tired days, so I’m pacing myself and just taking once step at a time. But I keep reminding myself that life is too short, so whatever you want to do, just go for it. 

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