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  • Molly
  • 26th Feb. 2021

CanTeen made me feel like im not alone

Molly was 20, when cancer turned her life upside down “I was on holiday in the South Island with my family. My usual energetic self was exhausted even after a regular night’s sleep and I needed long naps during the day, which was very unlike me. On top of this, I had big golf ball sized lumps under my chin and behind my ears. I dismissed all these symptoms as thinking that I probably had glandular fever – I wasn’t worried at all.

“When we got back from the trip, Mum booked me into see the GP first thing the next morning. He was checking me all over, prodding my stomach, feeling my lymph nodes, meanwhile I was chatting away to him. I noticed he was writing ‘urgent’ on the papers and I thought he was being nice, wanting me to get all the results in before my flight back to uni in Wellington that Sunday. At midday, my GP called telling me to come to the doctor’s immediately with my parents. He told me they had detected leukaemic cells, and to pack my bags as they were waiting for me at Auckland Hospital.

“I was diagnosed on a Friday, then started treatment on the Monday. That weekend was one of the worst, as my family, close friends and I were stuck in the unknown. It was really scary because we didn’t have very much information about my diagnosis, and we didn’t know what could happen to me. My life suddenly went from that of a ‘normal’ 20-year-old university student whose biggest worries were getting assignments in and what to wear on Saturday night to that of someone who had cancer – it seemed unreal.

“I was joined up to CanTeen on my first admission to the hospital, however I was reluctant to be an active CanTeen member as I was scared to be around other cancer patients – I found it too confronting when I was at a stage where I didn’t want to accept what was happening to me. It wasn’t until a Youth Worker strongly encouraged me to come along to Look Good Feel Better near the end of my major treatment that I realised that it might be ok. I then attended some amazing camps, and met CanTeen members that had been through what I had, and that I got along really well with. I began to slowly come along to things and became part of the Auckland Committee.

“CanTeen made me feel like I am not alone and that I am not the only one who has been through what I have been through. It provided me with the opportunities to meet incredible and inspiring people. It helped me address the emotional side of the journey and accept what has happened. It helped me use my experience to benefit others and offered guidance for me to slowly rebuild and enhance not only my skills but also myself. Cancer is such an individual experience and there’s only so much the doctors can tell you as they haven’t lived through it. That’s why it’s so important for CanTeen to exist, so we can help each other too.

Now five years on from finishing treatment Molly has a successful music career with her band Molly & The Chromatics and has spent the summer touring NZ, Molly has agreed to become a Bandanna Day 2021 Ambassador for CanTeen.

Molly said “For me, Bandanna Day is about creating awareness and providing hope. When I involved in CanTeen I didn’t see anyone like me who was out the other side to provide hope. If I can be that for someone else, it would mean the world to me”

Friday 26th March is CanTeen’s Bandanna Day and we’re encouraging everyone across Aotearoa to buy and wear a bandanna in a show of support for young people living with cancer. Your support is everything, buy a bandanna at and wear it in support of young people impacted by cancer.