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  • Gina
  • 19th Mar. 2018


No one ever does. It’s one of those things that you think will never happen to you, and then out of nowhere it does and you have no choice but to accept it.

I had just completed my last exam at university when I decided to visit the doctor about a lump on my shoulder.  I didn’t think much of it. There was no pain. I was more concerned about the fact that I was just really exhausted all the time, never thinking that the two would be linked.

In two weeks I went from a simple doctor’s appointment to scans, hospitals and surgery. It all happened so fast. By the time I was diagnosed with stage 2a Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I was numb. I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t happy. I didn’t really feel anything.

I felt like I’d lost

It wasn’t until my treatment began that my senses returned. I started to feel calm and at peace.  My focus was on getting better. People were sending me love from all over the world. I had never felt so grateful and almost wanted to thank cancer for all the positivity it had brought me.

That all changed once I went into recovery. I expected to feel invincible and able to take on any challenge that came my way with my head held high. So it was a big shock when I couldn’t help but feel mentally weaker than I ever had in my life.

My depression was deep and my anxieties were high.

I threw myself back into work to distract myself. I avoided seeing people as I never knew what to say or how to act. I didn’t feel like I’d beaten anything. If anything I felt like I’d lost. I’d been through cancer and all that I came out with was curly hair and a damaged soul.

CanTeen held me up and gave me hope

My CanTeen Youth Support Coordinator became my biggest supporter. We would talk about many things, from cancer to the simple things in life. She became the one person I could safely confide in and be fully understood. But it wasn’t until I attended a CanTeen programme that everything changed for me.

At the CanTeen programme I learnt different tactics of dealing with my experiences and how to use them to help me grow. We all had our own stories, backgrounds, and situations that were unique and different, yet this one thing that we all had in common brought us together as a family over the span of one weekend. We cried, we laughed, we sang, we danced, and we all left with friendships that would last a lifetime.

For the first time in so long, I felt calm again. My heart and soul felt ready to heal and life suddenly became exciting.

I am forever thankful for the support that CanTeen gave me. If it weren’t for CanTeen, I wouldn’t be the person that I am so proud to be today. 2017 was a rollercoaster of a year and I am excited for what the future holds and the opportunities that lie ahead. Life is full of surprises, but it’s how you choose to take them on that really counts.