Meet Zaki, diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, aged 19

Meet Zaki, diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, aged 19

Heya! I’m Zaki and I’m just about to turn 22 in a months time. I study computer science at university and love to spend my free time going to various events, meeting new people, talking about random things all day and having a good time no matter the situation!

Before my diagnosis I had just celebrated my 19th birthday. A few days later one of my friends pointed out quite a large lump in my groin at the gym, I was confused as to what it could be and had an online GP appointment the next day. The GP was concerned and told me to come in the same day. He was unsure as to what it could be so I was told to go straight to A&E where I had blood tests, and an ultrasound. I was not allowed to have my parents with me as this was during COVID. I was told I needed to stay in the hospital for a biopsy the next morning. It was a horrible night, I remember being alone in a room with very old patients the entire night with no parents to comfort me. I had a biopsy in the morning, not knowing at all what on earth was happening.

A week later my biopsy results came back with nothing as they hadn’t taken enough samples. I had a second biopsy where multiple samples were taken to find out what was happening. 13 days after my 19th birthday I was told I have a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NLPHL), a PET scan revealed I had cancer in 5 different places across my body making it stage 3B.
My world had just fallen apart and I had no idea what to tell my friends, I conjured up the courage and contacted my closest friends. At first they thought I was joking but the realisation soon came.

Cancer affected every aspect of my life. It put my education and career aspirations on hold, as my health became my top priority. I lost a lot of friends and stopped talking to a lot of people. Although I lost a lot of friends, I quickly learned who my closest friends were, as they were the ones who kept me afloat. My relationship with my parents has never been stronger. I owe them the world after what they helped me through. Cancer completely reshaped my perspective of life and taught me the value of time and the importance of cherishing the relationships that matter most to me.

My chemotherapy was a blur, I just remember feeling terrible all the time. By the last cycle my body had taken a serious toll and I felt like I was falling apart. I had lost all the progress I had made in the gym, losing over 20kg. Once my treatment finished it took me a while to get back on my feet, it only made me want to get back to how I was as fast as possible. Looking back I have far exceeded what I thought I could achieve, I have made so much progress and have never felt this good in my life.

I still have a lot of fatigue from my treatment but I do not let it bother me. I don’t like to make a big deal out of it or complain to others, if anything it powers me to keep going and improve myself. I received a phone call from Teens Unite one day, asking me to come to a 2 nights stay where I could meet other people who had gone through the same as me. I had seen the event on a leaflet and ignored it at first. After the phone call I bit the bullet and turned up, not having any idea what to expect. The teens unite Activity Stay completely opened my eyes, I met so many different and amazing people who I could talk to about cancer and even make super dark jokes with.

I made so many great friends through teens unite who I always see regularly and am super close with. The activities I did with them gave me confidence in my own abilities, making me want to strive further and try new things each day. I can’t explain with words how much I have been inspired by Teens Unite, I will never regret going to my first event. They have honestly made a huge impact in my life for the better and I am so thankful.

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