I was in sixth form studying Biology, Chemistry and Spanish A Levels when I started complaining about symptoms such as headaches, feeling sick, dizziness and blurred vision. These symptoms alarmed my parents so my father took me to A&E.
Once they found I had a tumour, I was referred to Queen Square hospital in London for neurosurgery and after being operated on, I had to wait around 4-8 weeks recovering before I was able to go to The Christie in Manchester to have proton beam therapy for two months.
Due to lockdown starting just before I was meant to be going to Manchester, I was unsure whether I would be able to still go. However, thankfully all continued as planned which allows me to focus now on recovering and continuing with my studies.
I was lucky as my mother, father and brother were able to stay with me in the accommodation provided by The Christie. Although lockdown wasn’t ideal, I was happy to have everyone with me helping me through it. They put in coronavirus safety measures for each patient. All the nurses and doctors were really friendly and the activity room was amazing.
After the second week of therapy, the side effects that the doctors at The Christie had mentioned appeared – I started to feel constantly sick and not wanting to eat anything.
Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinator Angie helped me get involved in things like painting. I enjoyed that as it allowed you to get distracted and not have to worry constantly about how bad you feel or how tired you are – it helped me focus on not feeling sick.
Artwork by young people treated at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie in Manchester
We did a pebble painting workshop which I really liked – we all painted pebbles and put them under the tree at the top of the proton centre. It was also symbolic because I left a ‘piece of me’ there.
We got a lot of support from Angie – she was really good at engaging everyone. We loved that there was a room for you to express yourself, and help get through the treatment during COVID. We thought the centre was amazing (Isabella’s mum Silvia)
In lockdown there wasn’t much to do or see, and as we had to stay indoors, that space for you to do something different while you wait for your treatment was welcomed and appreciated.
My main psychological support was really my mother. I was always able to talk to her about my concerns over the operation and the treatment, and having someone to talk to really helped.
Honestly for me personally, the further into the treatment I was the more nauseous and tired I felt which meant that doing the activities I had before became difficult. However, there were online workshops available which Angie helped organise, allowing us to get the support we needed during the stay at the centre and once we were home.
Personally, my experience having treatment would not have been that different without having to go through coronavirus because compared to other people my age, my side effects came on quickly so I probably wouldn’t have been going out shopping or doing loads of activities. But for other young people, I believe they would really appreciate all the outdoor activities that usually happen, like walks or trips to the sea.
Even after we got back from Manchester, because of coronavirus and the continued after-effects of the therapy which would last a couple of months, it still didn’t feel like I was back to normal but I can’t do much – I’m still waiting for me to be back to my old self. But my advice is that you really need to be positive during the whole process as it helps you get through it all.