Age: 15

Cancer type:  thyroid cancer

Shannon has shared her story as part of our partnership with the Sunday Mirror Christmas campaign. 

Looking back, I felt a bit more tired than normal and I had a lymph node swelling and a lump in my neck. Initially, I was put on antibiotics through a drip because the hospital consultant thought it was a cyst. But then the Ear, Nose and Throat consultants did an ultrasound of my neck and carried Shannon at schoolout a few biopsies.

I was diagnosed with having thyroid cancer, which had spread to the lymph nodes in my neck, in March 2018. I was really shocked and me and my mum just cried.

I had to have my thyroids out and had a neck dissection on my right-hand side which has left me with voice hoarseness. The surgery and medication also made me drowsy. 

It was just two months before my GCSEs when I was diagnosed and a consultant told me there would be no more school for me, so I had got it in my head that my school days were over and I wouldn't be doing my exams. 

When my oncologist said I could sit my exams, I felt like I had no other choice. By this point, I'd had extensive surgery and missed eight weeks of school and all my after-school revision classes. My friends had attended them, so I felt like I was disadvantaged compared to them. I was totally unprepared.

Shannon during treatment

My teachers sent revision folders and some had written lovely notes to explain the revision which was nice, but I wasn't able to understand a lot of it as I didn't have teachers on hand to ask questions. I also didn't want to be a burden.

I had to learn how to prioritise. I couldn't cope with the number of exams I was taking, so I decided to drop the exams for my weakest subjects. It was hard to do the exams as my mind was always on my next hospital appointment, my health, and the work I had missed out on. The disruption and having to try and carry on as normal felt strange, but I felt like I had no other option other than to sit my exams, as the thought of re-sitting Year 11 was unbearable.

I felt physically and mentally exhausted due to my extensive surgery, the new medications I was taking, trying to recover and getting used to the new me.

ShannonI didn't get the grades I hoped for or that I was predicted, but I have good reasons and I did everything I could. I got into the Childcare course at college that I wanted to do, so I am over the moon. My tutor will work around my upcoming surgery (a neck dissection in my left-hand side) then radioiodine therapy at The Christie Hospital.

I've looked around the Teenage Cancer Trust facilities there and they are amazing. Even though I will be in isolation when I have my treatment, the room I will be going in on the unit is very spacious. The social area is a really bright room which is perfect for teenagers who just want to hang out away from their hospital bed and chill out. On Wednesday nights, there is a pizza evening in the social hub, provided by Teenage Cancer Trust, which sounds great!

My Teenage Cancer Trust Clinical Nurse Specialist also told me about the social events I could be part of, which would give me the chance to meet other young people going through cancer like me. I'm looking forward to going to some of those events. She also told me about the Facebook group which was for teenagers in my situation, and I've joined this group too to make friends.

Teenage Cancer Trust unit at The Christie

I'm looking forward to going off to college and continuing to enjoy the things I love, like working with animals and helping on the farm, quad biking and shopping. 

Shannon is one of thousands of young people facing cancer this Christmas – but because of your generosity, Teenage Cancer Trust will be there to support young people like Molly during the festive season and all year-round. 

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