Age: 19

Cancer type:  thyroid cancer

Diagnosis

I was 16 when I first noticed that something was wrong. I found a lump on my neck and kept catching it while I was playing the violin. I went to see the GP but he said it was a cyst and said it was nothing to worry about.

The lump grew, and I kept going back to my GP. I was eventually referred for a scan and other lumps were found in my jaw and neck. They did a biopsy and we had to wait a week for the results, which was very stressful. I was then diagnosed with thyroid cancer and extensive lymph node disease.

I felt shocked at first although I already knew it was probably going to be bad news. I took in all the information they had to say to me and decided I wanted to carry on my life as before. I wasn't going to let my cancer define who and what I was.

Treatment

A week later and two days after my 17th birthday, I was admitted to hospital and put on a children’s ward. I had to have an eight hour operation, and after surgery I had a fit and bit my tongue which meant I could barely talk for a month. I then had to have three weeks in isolation for radiotherapy treatment.

The care was excellent, but I felt isolated on the children’s ward. I couldn’t talk to anyone my own age as the ward was mainly made up of screaming toddlers and babies.

Having cancer was very tough, especially during a time in my life where a lot of natural change happens anyway, so it would have been nice to have spoken to other teenagers going through the same thing as me. To share our worries and also talk about things like exams would have been good.

Even though I wasn’t on a Teenage Cancer Trust unit, I got support from Teenage Cancer Trust staff. Teenage Cancer Trust has given me a way to give back to all those who have helped me. It’s given me a chance to share my experience with people who may be scared and confused and to help them in some way.

Life after cancer

I’ve now finished treatment and I’m back at music college in London. One day I hope to be a classical composer.

I have always believed that my cancer was worse for the people around me, the people who love me having to watch me deteriorating knowing that there was nothing that they could do. My girlfriend coped amazingly well and I wouldn't have been able to do it without her and my family and friends.

I truly believe cancer has changed my life for the better because I now have a better understanding of life that only people with the same experiences as me will understand, and that’s not something that can be taught.