Tuesday 26th June 2018
Every day, around seven young people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. At Teenage Cancer Trust, we know that young people need expert treatment and support from the moment they hear the word 'cancer'. We're the only UK charity currently providing young people with cancer with the specialised nursing care and support they need.
'Teenagers vs Cancer: A User's Guide', a new BBC Horizon documentary available now on BBC iPlayer, followed the stories of eleven young people with cancer to see how they dealt with their cancer experience, from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond.
The seven young people below, who were supported by Teenage Cancer Trust, were all featured in the Horizon film. Read their stories to see how Teenage Cancer Trust supports teenagers and young adults with cancer, and the difference our specialist care and support makes. Your support is vital in helping us provide this to young people with cancer.
"When you first get a diagnosis, your mind blows up and you can't focus on everything going on. But everyone has been amazing and all of the support I have received has been brilliant."
Chloe was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma when she was 20 and decided to take part in a clinical trial during her treatment. Read Chloe's story here.
"When you first hear you have cancer, you feel disconnected, but when you join the community you feel more relieved, more accepted."
During the last year of his A Levels, Nick was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Now he's making the most of every moment and travelling through Asia. Read Nick's story here.
"It was meant to be a routine scan, so I was shocked when that and a biopsy showed that I had Ewing's Sarcoma in my spine."
After being diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma at 14, Timothy was then diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma at 21. He's just finished treatment in the USA and is hoping to start his Master's degree soon. Read Timothy's story here.
"Everything that I wanted to do and enjoyed the most was taken away from me and I was on lockdown."
When Matt was diagnosed with leukaemia at 19, he had to leave his friends and his love of BMX behind to move to Bristol for treatment. Now he's riding life 'til the wheels fall off. Read Matt's story here.
"At first, I didn't want to leave my room at all, but I soon felt more at ease on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit. Most of my friends were away at uni, so it was nice to make friends on the unit."
Roisin's doctors were worried that her blood wasn't clotting properly after problems with long nosebleeds and bruising. However, her blood tests showed that she had cancer and Roisin was diagnosed with media style large B-cell lymphoma when she was 20. During her final tests, her chemotherapy and her radiotherapy, Roisin stayed on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. There, the nurses introduced her to the IAM portal, an online feedback portal that allowed Roisin to feedback on her treatment and care, as well as providing her with lots of helpful information about coping with anxiety, sadness, and physical changes. The IAM portal let Roisin talk about her treatment 'without having to say it out loud, which is good because you don't always feel comfortable talking about some things or feeling like you are complaining'.
"I had a thousand thoughts running through my mind but my major concern was more on the impact it would have on those around me and the affect it would have on my future."
As an avid rugby player, doctors initially assumed the lump on Liam's side was from a broken rib. However, within a few months he was going for scan after scan, using holiday leave from work because he didn't want to tell his manager that he was going for tests at the hospital, before he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at 18. He found it difficult to tell people around him at first, especially his mum, but Liam is taking his 'new normal' in his stride. Liam moved onto the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at University College Hospital in London (UCLH), where he's been able to meet other young people with cancer, and has currently had three cycles of chemotherapy, which will continue until November 2018. He can carry his chemo in a backpack and it passes through his picc line, allowing him to go out, see his friends, and watch rugby while he has his treatment. Unfortunately, Liam had surgery to remove three ribs where the cancer was and to replace them with surgical cement and a plastic mesh, which means he'll never be able to play rugby again. "It's heart-wrenching as the game is extremely special to me, but it is what it is," said Liam. "I can't knock myself for it or complain. My health is more important and I will still be able to do other things."
"I feel quite proud that I have managed to keep my head up and get through it, but I am also relieved as well that I am getting to the end and we can get back to normal."
Yazz's mum was worried when Yazz started feeling sleepy all the time, especially as she also had tonsilitis that wouldn't go away and pains in her back that made it difficult to walk. After two blood tests, doctors told Yazz's mum to take her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Yazz transferred to Bristol Children's Hospital, 120 miles away from her family in Plymouth. The separation, especially from her twin sister, left Yazz feeling lonely: 'You don't realise how close you are when you are with someone, and when you get separated you realise how much you need them'. Yazz's cancer had affected her chromosomes so she needed to have a type of chemo to condition her body for a bone marrow transplant. At one stage, Yazz was taken to intensive care and put on a ventilator. After two weeks, she was allowed to leave intensive care, but her muscles has wasted away during that time. She had to be helped with simple tasks and relearn to walk. Yazz couldn't be on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit because she needed to remain on the transplant ward, but the Youth Support Coordinator still involved her in social activities. This was so important for Yazz 'as I wasn't around any young people my age who knew what I was going through so to be able to mix with them and make friends was really valuable'. Now she is nearing the end of treatment, Yazz is looking forward to starting an Engineering apprenticeship this summer after falling in love with motorbikes when she was 8 years old.