I was scared coronavirus would make my mental health worse

Laikita Neille just before her diagnosis

Lakita, 20

Lakita, a student from Manchester, was 20 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in July 2019. Teenage Cancer Trust has been there for Lakita throughout the coronavirus pandemic as she navigates life after cancer treatment. 

I went into remission in November 2019, just a few months before the country went into lockdown. I was gutted that I was just getting back onto my feet and then the pandemic changed everything.

I started shielding and my boyfriend Ollie moved home for lockdown, so I couldn’t see him for months. He was miles away so I couldn’t just meet him for a walk when we were allowed to meet people outside, and I missed him a lot.

Lakita Neille took up running in lockdown

I struggled to even go for walks with my family as we have houses surrounding us and it felt like I’d have to pass a lot of people before I got any space.

Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinators Lori and Steve at The Christie were fantastic. They knew that myself and the other young people who’d had cancer treatment needed support more now than ever.

They couldn’t do face-to-face activities, but they put together a programme of events which ran every night. There were things like quizzes, games nights, and music events. They also set up virtual talks from local famous people, including Manchester United players, make-up artists and comedians.

If you didn’t have something you might need for one of the events then they’d send it to you, so you weren’t excluded. I was also sent a ukulele! There were different prizes for the winners like Amazon and Domino’s pizza vouchers.

I got to know the other young people on the calls really well and feel I know so much about them now. I’ve met two of my closest friends through the calls and I now speak to them every day without fail.

My mental health was another thing that Lori helped me with. I caught coronavirus from one of my housemates after going back to university. We’d been being as careful as we could, but we still managed to get it. I felt frustrated because I’d shielded for so long, but then caught it anyway.

I was worried about having to isolate and sit with my thoughts for two weeks because my mental health was bad. I overanalysed and overthought everything. I knew I could reach out to Lori though. I rang her saying that I had coronavirus and I was scared it would make my mental health worse. She listened to me and set me up with some counselling straight away.

Lakita Neille with boyfriend Ollie who also shaved his head

I was worried in case the thoughts came back, but Lori told me that I could ring her at any time. That was so powerful, as knowing she’ll always be there for me made me feel so much better, and I feel so secure in my own mind now. If the worst was to happen, I could call her, and just knowing that makes things much less scary.

I don’t know what I would do without Lori and Steve. I can’t imagine having treatment without Teenage Cancer Trust and they totally, absolutely smashed the support they have given me during coronavirus.