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At 17 I Thought I Was Just A Healthy, Average Teenager

Katie Holland

At 17, I thought I was just a healthy average teenager, I ate well, exercised a lot and generally took care of my body. I was never ill other than catching a cold. But that changed when my skin started to become very itchy, and I developed rashes that wouldn’t go away.

My doctors thought I had eczema, but the rashes would always come back. There was one night in particular that I remember when my skin was worse than ever, my legs swelled up and they were burning, the next day I found myself in hospital. The doctors thoughts I was anaemic with a skin infection. Three months later, after weekly doctor visits, I was referred to a haematologist, who referred me to an oncologist.

That same day I was told I needed to be in hospital and was sent to a cancer ward. The doctors told me they were 99% sure it was Hodgkin lymphoma, I was in complete shock. I had several tests including an x-ray, CT scan, several blood tests, a biopsy on lumps that had appeared in my neck and then a PET scan.

Hearing I had cancer was so scary. It felt like a nightmare which I was hoping to wake up from. Treatment started fairly quickly, and after four months of chemotherapy and 11 sessions of radiotherapy I was in remission.

The treatment wasn’t the nicest. I hated losing my hair and feeling sick all the time, but I’d do it again if I had to. I’m beyond grateful for the second chance at life that I’ve been given. Through everything I’ve been through, I’ve learnt that you should never lose hope and always stay strong. Things will always get at least a little better and you are stronger than you think.

My treatment finished in March 2014 and it took me a long time to feel better again, but I tried to act as normal as possible. I carried on with college and within a month I was back to my job. I then went on to do my A-levels and I felt determined to do well. At this point I was playing catch up with my friends as they were already at university and I was keen to do the same.

I am now at Liverpool University studying Psychology, and I feel so proud to have achieved that. I had always wanted to do it but even more so after having cancer. It’s been amazing to regain my independence and move away from home. It’s nice being away from where everything happened. I’ve made some amazing friends, I’m loving university life and excited about my future.

By writing this blog, I want to inspire others because you don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

Katie is supporting the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, which celebrate the bravery of children in the UK who have been diagnosed with cancer. To nominate someone to receive an award or to find out more about the campaign, visit: