Age: 20

Cancer type: Hodgkin lymphoma

I was working in Waitrose while I was waiting to start a degree and I began to get so exhausted that I needed to lean on my trolley as I walked around. I was also itching, getting hot sweats at night and I found some lumps in my neck.

I went to the GP and they said that I just had a cold. I saw the GP a few more times and they just brushed it off. It wasn’t until I saw a retired doctor who was covering that I was referred for a scan. The CT scan and an X-ray confirmed that I had Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lily in hospital

I had one cycle of chemo before Christmas and ended up back in hospital on Christmas Day as I was in so much pain. The nurses hadn’t seen anything like it and discovered it was a weird reaction to the injections to stimulate my bone marrow.

I had an operation on New Year’s Eve to have an ovary removed so that it could be frozen to preserve my fertility. I was in a lot of pain afterwards so both my Christmas and New Year’s Eve were affected. 

The rest of the chemo worked well physically, but it left me feeling rough and sick. Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinator came to visit me at every chemo session to help distract me. It was so important to have someone to talk to who didn’t just focus on my condition. She reminded me that there was a life outside of the hospital by chatting to me about TV programmes, or food, or random stuff. 

Lily on holiday

I was so caught up in coping with my treatment that I didn’t socialise with other young people on the unit. It wasn’t until the last day that I decided to go along to a Teenage Cancer Trust gathering at the hospital.

I wish I had met the group earlier as I didn’t realise how a good support network could have helped me.

I loved to sing from a very young age, and I started writing my own songs. I thought that I didn’t have anything to write about during my treatment and I didn’t have the energy. Speaking to my Youth Support Coordinator helped me to start accepting my condition and when I was feeling better about things it reignited my passion for music.  

Lily on stage at Find Your Sense of Tumour

I wrote a song about the effects of cancer. It was my way of telling my story. I performed the song at Teenage Cancer Trust’s Find Your Sense of Tumour event. It was a really nice moment and lots of people said that my song expressed things that were going through too. It felt like I had found my place and given something back.