Lily had a uncommon response to chemo and ended up in hospital (Image: Lily Blundell)
Christmas generally is a troublesome time for Lily Blundell and her household.
Two years in the past, she was combating cancer and a uncommon response to chemo meant she was left screaming in ache on Christmas Day.
Final yr, she was nonetheless combating the fatigue and uncomfortable side effects attributable to the remedy which had saved her life.
However now in 2020, Lily, from Oxfordshire, is lastly feeling properly and has been capable of begin her dream diploma course, learning music on the College of Cambridge.
The 23-year-old tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Going by way of most cancers remedy and the response at Christmas was troublesome for me and my household.
‘Yearly, it does deliver again recollections of that point – however I really feel that now, in 2020, we’re beginning to transfer on from what occurred.’
Lily first seen one thing was flawed on a metropolis break together with her mum and brother in October 2018.
She was falling behind as they walked across the metropolis and felt very drained.
When she obtained again, she went to see her GP however the signs had been dismissed as simply being run down and when she noticed a second one shortly after, she was once more advised it was nothing to fret about.
A couple of weeks later, in early November 2018, she discovered a pea-sized lump on her neck, which began to swell up.
She says: ‘I by no means thought it might be most cancers. I had signs cropping up however I didn’t join them collectively.
Lily struggled by way of Christmas Day in 2018 and ended up in hospital (Image: Lily Blundell)
‘I used to be taking exams on the time and I put it all the way down to overworking myself and having a little bit of a bug or one thing.’
In search of recommendation from a 3rd GP, he realised that her signs matched up with Hodgkin lymphoma and figuring out it was extra frequent in younger individuals, he despatched her to hospital for x-rays and a CT scan.
She explains: ‘He advised me on the day what he thought it was however I don’t assume I realised then how severe it was.
‘I didn’t assume it might be a most cancers the place I might have chemo and lose my hair as a result of I assumed that wouldn’t occur to me. To me, I used to be too younger and wholesome.
‘By the point I obtained to the hospital and noticed a most cancers specialist, it began to sink in.’
Lily in hospital (Image: Lily Blundell)
The subsequent day, she had a biopsy and the outcomes, which got here again round every week later, confirmed that she had Hodgkin lymphoma, a most cancers of the lymphatic system.
Lily was given the choice of a powerful chemo over a shorter time period, or a weaker chemo over an extended time. She selected the primary possibility.
She was additionally advised that the chemotherapy might have an effect on her fertility and she or he determined to have her ovary eliminated and frozen.
The day earlier than chemotherapy, she had an interview for Cambridge and was decided to maintain life as regular as doable alongside remedy.
‘It was loopy however I used to be glad of the distraction,’ she says.
Beginning the primary spherical of chemotherapy, she deliberate to have two weeks of remedy, then every week off, which fell throughout Christmas, after which proceed with the following cycle.
Initially, all the pieces went to plan and she or he was given injections to take dwelling to stimulate her bone marrow to supply extra white blood cells.
She explains: ‘I used to be advised that the injections would possibly trigger a bit bone ache however it needs to be high quality and I assumed I might be capable of get pleasure from Christmas.
Lily is now doing a lot better (Image: Lily Blundell)
‘The primary two had been okay and I took the third on Christmas Eve.’
That evening, the truth of residing with most cancers hit as Lily realised her hair was popping out.
She says: ‘I used to be going to sleep on Christmas Eve and realising my hair was popping out in my arms.’
After the injection, Lily was getting a bit little bit of muscle ache however thought it might move.
However round 1am, she wakened and located it was a lot worse, so she walked round and took some ache killers.
After a couple of hours, she woke her mother and father up and by 5am, she was screaming in ache.
‘It was like somebody was grabbing the bones in my legs and twisting them or one thing,’ she says.
‘It was a extremely deep ache and like nothing I’d ever had earlier than.’
On Christmas morning, she tried to distract herself with TV and took extra painkillers and hoped it might move.
She says: ‘We gathered as a household and tried to open presents. I used to be making an attempt to handle the ache a bit however I’d open one factor and must keel over on the couch.
‘We had been making an attempt our greatest to have a Christmas however it was virtually not possible. We ended up with a half-done Christmas dinner and by 5pm, we accepted that the ache wasn’t going and I actually wanted to go to hospital.’
Lily ended up being admitted to hospital for 3 days, and medical doctors imagine she had a extreme and strange response to the injections.
She was given morphine to handle the ache till her physique recovered.
When she obtained dwelling, her household tried to redo Christmas however she was nonetheless weak and drained.
New Years Eve was one other milestone in her remedy as she had her ovary taken out so it might be frozen, to permit her to have IVF sooner or later to have youngsters.
Lily says: ‘I used to be out and in the identical day for that however it was fairly painful. I used to be watching the fireworks on the TV whereas checking out my painkillers and coping with the stitches from the surgical procedure.’
After the New Yr, she went on to have three extra rounds of chemotherapy, with remedy ending on the finish of February.
She stated: ‘Fortunately we knew I might attain remission by the top of January, so fortunately the remedy was powerful however comparatively brief for me.
‘As soon as the remedy was over, the most cancers was gone however it took a very long time earlier than I began to really feel very well once more.
Lily performing (Image: Lily Blundell)
‘I suffered from fatigue, muscle weak point and mind fog for fairly some time.’
Whereas going by way of remedy, Lily was advised the interview she’d had for Cambridge had been profitable and she or he was provided a spot to start out in October 2019.
However as she was nonetheless struggling, she made the choice to delay till 2020.
All through all the pieces, Lily was supported by the Teenage Cancer Trust.
She explains: ‘I had a assist coordinator and she or he was actually superb. She visited me in hospital day-after-day and simply introduced board video games and DVDs and talked to us for hours. She simply helped us a lot.
‘After remedy, she continued to assist me for one more yr. She was truly the one who prompted me to start out remedy to assist me transfer on. The charity does actually improbable work for younger individuals with most cancers.’
Now, two years on from prognosis, Lily lastly seems like she will be able to transfer on after most cancers and with Christmas 2019 bringing again some troublesome recollections, she feels celebrating this yr shall be extra optimistic.
She says: ‘Final yr was unusual. What occurred the yr earlier than made it onerous to separate Christmas from the concept of me being sick.
‘I discover it fairly onerous to calm down and I believe my mum felt stress to make it additional particular.
‘It was nonetheless pretty however the yr earlier than was at the back of my thoughts.
‘I’ve completed a variety of work over the past yr to maneuver on from what occurred and I do really feel higher about celebrating it this yr.’
Lily is now doing properly and though coronavirus has impacted her college expertise this yr, she is glad she lastly obtained to start out her diploma in October.
To make a donation to the Teenager Most cancers Belief Let’s Be Unstoppable This Christmas marketing campaign, visit their website.
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