A Teenage Cancer – Awareness Time

Cancer.

We’ve all heard the word; many of us have been affected by that word. Some of us have survived that word. Some of us have loved and lost those who had the word, but still it’s considered taboo. A word that shouldn’t be said out loud. It’s for the darkest corners, of the darkest days,  especially when it comes to  children and teenagers.

Cancer Research UK itself states that: “cancer is primarily a disease of older people” the key word being primarily. Cancer itself doesn’t seem to mind who it infects. According to the Teenage Cancer Trust: “around seven young people aged between 13 and 24” are diagnosed everyday in the UK. This, along with the 1,600 younger children who are diagnosed each year, and the figure begins to build. Which means a figure of around 4,155 children and young adults per year – but that’s only an average for those who are actually diagnosed.

Likewise, it’s thought of an older person’s disease but is the leading cause of death in children from 0-14 and those aged 15- 24 in the UK, with brain tumours, other central nervous system tumours, intracranial tumours and leukaemia being the most common, click for more info.

But don’t get me wrong, this blog isn’t supposed to upset or worry anyone. It’s a new year, a new dawn. A new age in the fight that cancer will lose. This blog – this post is to make those who aren’t aware – more aware, and those who have it – realise they are not alone.

March 2013 saw the diagnosis of my best friend’s little sister, Milly who we affectionally call Mouse. A strong, beautiful,  and ultimately healthy looking 18-year-old.  When she passes you on the street trust me you’ll  watch as she moves past you, always with a  little bit jealous of the vitality in her eyes and movement. In other words, she is a completely normal teenager and does completely normal teenage stuff.  Milly suffers from a rare form of Non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, known as Mycosis Fungoides which according to the British Association of Dermatologists is usual in 40-60 year old men, one in a million if you’re an 18 year old female you might say. It’s not curable and it’s with you for life, but it can be treated and life for Milly can continue as its always done so long as it’s kept an eye on. Like most cancers it comes in stages and with that Milly has different stages on her body which are treated as they should be treated. Milly though, knows that she is relatively lucky. She hasn’t needed to start some of the rougher options of cancer treatment such as radiotherapy: “which involves the use of high-energy radiation” or chemotherapy which: “kills cancer cells that are dividing and reproducing”. She and her older sister kindly offered to do a little video (scroll down or click here) with me to discuss her diagnosis. This video along side an audio slideshow are both very short but for a link to the complete audio please click here.

For me this post is personal, we’ve all met people and heard stories about someone’s fight against cancer. We’ve all seen the Race for Life posters, the Shine walk posters, the Macmillan nurses, the Marie Curie yellow banners collecting money and the specifically more ‘fun’ logo of  Teenage Cancer Trust dotted about everywhere. I’ve had people I’ve loved and lost, but until now I’d never met anyone as young Milly. That’s why this post is here. It does happen. It shouldn’t but it does.

The first and most important thing that parents and teenagers themselves have to do is become more aware. Identifying symptoms and having yourself checked is a wildly important aspect to quick diagnosis and then with any luck kicking the cancer.

Symptoms aren’t always obvious but The Teenage Cancer Trust has got some notes:

  1. You know your body better than anyone – look out for any worrying changes – go and get it checked out
  2. Pain
  3. Lumps, swellings or bumps
  4. Extreme tiredness
  5. Extreme weight loss
  6. A mole that has changed

Of course, these symptoms could be result of anything, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Below are the promised videos of the Curtin family:

 If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them.  When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope?  We have two options, medically and emotionally:  give up, or fight like hell.  ~Lance Armstrong

For more information on What Cancer Is Please Click

For more information of Teenage Cancer Symptoms Click Here

Here is a link to a beautiful blog, which is filled with inspirational poetry from those who suffer from the disease. Give it a read.

Another blog about an inspirational woman who began blogging at her diagnosis

A BUPA directory, with helpful and useful information

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