Thursday 14th September 2017
"My daughter Caitlin is 15 years old and we live in Hampshire.
We have a great relationship and enjoy spending our time outside in the country air and shopping!
Over the Christmas period in 2016 I started to notice that she wasn't herself. She was off her food and lacking in energy. One evening she almost fainted and we simply put it down to 'getting up too quickly'.
Caitlin bought a new dress for a family event in October and wanted to wear it for another event we had at the end of January 2017 and as soon as she put it on for this event, it was obvious she was losing weight at an alarming rate.
We did the thing you should never do in that situation and turned to the Internet for advice and one of the things suggested was Anaemia. She was looking pale and as a teenage girl, anaemia is not uncommon so this was entirely possible.
During a family trip to London at the beginning of March, I even gave Caitlin some iron tablets and later that day she said she felt better than she had in weeks. I thought we'd cracked it.
Eventually, in mid-March 2017, Caitlin went to the doctor and had some blood tests which suggested Lymphoma and we were sent to Southampton General Hospital. The week that followed was the worst of my life. She had many tests and the staff at SGH were amazing.
On Tuesday 4 April 2017, Caitlin was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
She began the first of 6 rounds of chemotherapy on 3 April and is currently resting before round 6 begins on 11 September. Following that, she will have some radiotherapy to complete her treatment. She is feeling well and strong and the only major issue she had was some chronic heartburn during round 2 which caused her to be re-admitted to hospital for a short while.
She has been truly inspirational in how she's dealt with this terrifying journey and both her school and all of her friends have been amazingly supportive. She sat her mock GCSEs the week before her first hospital admission and her school have organised a cake sale and fun run to raise funds for the Piam Brown children's cancer unit in Southampton General Hospital.
Teenage Cancer Trust have been a wonderful source of support and comfort during this time, offering both emotional and practical advice and information and helping to focus on the good times and the future.
They continue to provide support as we approach the end of Caitlin's treatment, helping us to plan Caitlin's continued recovery and the emotional times ahead as we come out of the darkness that has hovered over us.
We are planning on visiting Rome as soon as Caitlin is able to travel as she was devastated to miss a school holiday to Italy in May whilst she was undergoing treatment."