“My Teenage Cancer Trust nurse Claire helped make sure I got some time at home over Christmas, and helped explain things if I didn’t get it. She’s definitely on my Christmas card list!”
Angel (22) was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in August 2018. She was treated at St George’s Hospital and the Royal Marsden in London, and received radiotherapy over Christmas last year.
“My mum starts decorating for Christmas pretty much as soon as December hits. It’s something that makes me feel like Christmas is upon us.
“But last year, I had radiotherapy treatment all over the Christmas period – every day besides the weekends and Christmas Day itself.
“At home, my mum made all the usual food we usually have over Christmas. But it was quite hard, because I couldn’t eat. I was in a lot of pain, so I pretty much had a bit of soup and mash because my throat was so sore it was too painful to swallow.
“This year, I’m looking forward to making up for last year by eating twice as much of my mum’s food! And to spend time with my family. They’re my top priority at Christmas time.”
“Because of everything nurses did for me when I was in for hospital over Christmas, I worked last Christmas Day to give back.”
Lucy (25) was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and then thyroid cancer. She was treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
“I was in my second year of my nursing degree when I was first diagnosed. I had six months of chemotherapy and my Teenage Cancer Trust nurse went above and beyond for me.
“My remission scan showed there was still evidence of activity, and I got an appointment to have part of my thyroid gland taken out – two days before Christmas.
“I couldn’t stay on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit after my operation. But my nurse spoke to the adult ward and arranged for me to have the same visiting rights. Knowing my parents could visit me any time of day or night really helped – and made Christmas easier for them too.
“My results showed that I had thyroid cancer. I couldn’t believe I’d had six months of chemo to be told I’d developed a different type of cancer. I had a completion thyroidectomy, then two doses of radio iodine which I have now finished.
“Teenage Cancer Trust helped me through my whole experience, and I was given the all clear. I finished off my nursing training and started as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse. Because of everything nurses did for me when I was in for hospital over Christmas, I worked last Christmas Day to give back.”
“I’ll be spending Christmas Day with my parents again this year. There was a time that they didn’t think that I would see Christmas, so it’s made us all more thankful.”
“I ended up in hospital over Christmas. The nurses tried to make it as nice as possible.”
Stevie-Jo (14) was diagnosed with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
“I’d first been diagnosed when I was nine and treated on a children’s ward. This time it was good to be around people my age who I could talk to.
“Ronan, the Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator, is great. He’s there for the serious side of things, but he really makes me laugh as well and I love beating him at pool. The Teenage Cancer Trust nurses are lovely too – I’ve got to know them really well.
“Because my immune system was so low, I ended up in hospital over Christmas. The nurses tried to make it as nice as possible and we had presents and Christmas dinner. It was really sad though as we were due to go on holiday to Edinburgh, so I missed out on that.
“We used to have all the family for Christmas dinner, but we don’t now in case I get poorly, so we go out instead. On Christmas Eve we go to the cinema, then we come home and make chocolate and watch The Polar Express. On Boxing Day, we go to my auntie and uncle’s house and spend the day with all the family.
“We’re going to Edinburgh for our family holiday over New Year and to visit the Christmas markets. I can’t wait.”
“We kind of just blocked Christmas out. It was really hard not being able to see my friends and family for Christmas as we normally have a big celebration.”
Fiona was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma aged 17 and was helped by Teenage Cancer Trust at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
“It was December 21st so we were just getting ready for Christmas but suddenly everything changed. I had fluid around my heart, so I had to be flown from Orkney to Aberdeen to have that drained in an emergency procedure. It meant I was in hospital on Christmas Day.
“I started chemo on December 29th and didn’t get back home until January 6th so my granny and grandad went to our house and took down our decorations – they didn’t want me to be reminded of what I missed.
“I had 10 rounds of chemo altogether. The Teenage Cancer Trust nurses were really supportive and were always there to reassure me when I had any worries.
“As I didn’t really know any other young people with cancer, they suggested that I go along to Teenage Cancer Trust’s Find Your Sense of Tumour event. I’ve kept in touch with some people since – it’s nice to have made friends with people in the same position.
“Because Christmas brings back bad memories, I'm going away this year to make Christmas more special.
Hiral was 21 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. She was helped by Teenage Cancer Trust at UCLH.
“I was asked if I wanted to be treated by Teenage Cancer Trust at UCLH with other young adults. I jumped at the chance.
“I was told that I’d be in hospital over Christmas. I was upset as I wanted to be home and asked the nurses if they could make me well enough.
“My family had missed out on so much while I was in hospital - I felt guilty that I might ruin Christmas too.
“The nurses tried their best and managed to get me home just before Christmas.
“Being home was so special. Christmas is a time for reflection on your year. When you’re going through treatment you wonder whether you will make it to Christmas, and I felt grateful that I had.
“Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinator Marlies has been there for a lot of my journey and become almost like a friend. She kept me busy with different activities on the ward to boost my mood.
“This Christmas will be even more special as my family and I didn’t know if I would be here for it. I will be helping Marlies set up a Christmas party at the unit so that all the young people can come together make the most of the good times.”
Charlie was 17 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was treated at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
“I was told that I’d need an operation to remove some of the tumour. After the operation, I was transferred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit. The surroundings made things easier. I had my own room so my mum was able to come and stay over with me.
“The Youth Support Coordinators were a great support too and I became close to them. They really inspired me, and I’d love to become a Youth Support Coordinator in the future.
“We had a Christmas party on the ward, and I was able to take one of my friends. She was able to see what it was like, meet my new friends, and celebrate with me.
“I was gutted when my chemo schedule came through and it said I was having chemo on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I love Christmas and love spending time with my family at home.
“I started crying and my Teenage Cancer Trust nurses said they would sort it out for me. They said I could have Christmas at home and come back on the 27th. I was shocked, but so happy.
“I’m looking forward to a special Christmas this year now that I have finished treatment and have been given the all clear. It’s nice to be back to normal and we’ve already started our Christmas shopping.”