Just over two years ago, I was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a tumour of the adrenal glands. I already felt quite alone because I was completely unaware of how many young people were affected by cancer and I didn’t know anyone close who had suffered from the illness. Then, I was told that my type of cancer was extremely rare in teenagers, so I didn’t know anyone else on the cancer ward affected by it.
Just after my surgery in June 2011, I was a very tired teen. I was becoming extremely dependent upon my family to help me with things, and I didn’t like this because before my illness, I was a very active person who loved to be in control of pretty much everything…a bit of a bossy boots you might say?! But soon after, I was told about an art workshop run by a charity called Teens Unite, so I was very keen to go along and make my own “masterpiece”!
I still remember that day as being one of the best days of my life. I met people from a number of different hospitals who were all under the same roof as me. And I didn’t even find it necessary to tell them everything about my treatment, I just felt a really strong bond with all the other teens because I knew they understood exactly how I felt. The most wonderful thing about that June day was probably meeting some of the teens who had finished their treatment, some of them were at school, uni or working again. Seeing them looking so healthy, happy and hopeful made me realise that one day, I could run back into the big wide world and do as much as I could to help other young people who were facing the same challenges that I did.
Overall, the people I love the most are those that work so hard to make events like this possible; the Teens Unite Team. Unlike me, who will be doing everything I can to help other teens because I suffered from cancer myself, these amazing people chose to be part of a wonderful charity which celebrates hope and the powers of community in such a unique way. They care about us individually, and they take the time to form a personal relationship with each of us.
Now that I have finished my treatment, I can get involved in many more things to support Teens Unite. For example, last summer I took part in the YES Campaign which is an entrepreneurial scheme run by the charity. The aim is for the teens to turn £10 given to them by Teens Unite into about £100. This could be by running an event or selling goods etc. The YES Campaign gave me a promise that I can use my experience in some of the best ways possible, and the meetings with Teens Unite in preparation for the scheme made me realise that I had the ability to define myself as my own person, and not only be known as a cancer patient. I think is the best lesson I have learnt!
At the moment, I am taking part in another fundraising event with lots of other teens. We are going to hold a “dinner-dance” event at Paradise Wildlife Park in September. The organising of the event will purely be run by us. Along with another lovely teen, Emily, the two of us are going to sort out the catering and entertainment. I can’t wait!