Emma was 21, mum to twins and pregnant when she got the devastating news that she had cancer. Throughout her journey Emma and her family were supported by CLIC Sargent Social Worker Vivian who gave emotional, practical and financial support.
Emma said: “One morning, when I was 21 and six months pregnant, I looked in the mirror and was shocked to see that a lump the size of a cricket ball, spreading from my shoulder right up to the bottom of my neck, had appeared overnight. I went straight to the GP.
“He referred me to hospital and they did all kinds of tests, before they told me that it was ‘probably pregnancy related’ and sent me home. They didn’t believe that it could have appeared overnight and it got a bit heated, as they just wouldn’t listen to me.
Emma saw another doctor, who referred her to hospital for a biopsy. A month later she went to collect the results.
She said: “My mum came with me to get the results and the doctor we saw just blurted out straightaway that I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma – cancer. I couldn’t believe it.”
A lot to take in
Doctors said the cancer had spread into her chest and she was told she’d need to have her baby early, the following week, via caesarean, at 34 weeks, and then start chemotherapy a week later.
She continued: “It was a lot to take in, and I wondered how me and my partner were going to cope with a new baby and my twins, who were just about to turn four.
“When my baby girl Maddie was born she had breathing problems and had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It was really awful. I had to stay in hospital to avoid picking up any infections, and we didn’t get to go outside at all.
“But I started chemo as planned and we celebrated the twin’s birthday as best we could.
Help and support
“A CLIC Sargent Social Worker came to my house to see how I was doing, her name was Vivian and she was lovely. She said that she’d help us however she could.”
CLIC Sargent Social Worker Vivian helped Emma apply for a childcare grant, and helped her map out exactly what support she would need.
Emma added: “She talked to me about my worries and stresses and the emotional side things too. She was really lovely and boosted my morale a lot.
“Vivian was great with my mum and supported her emotionally too. And she helped my sister, who has learning difficulties; understand in simple terms what was happening, which was really helpful.
The emotional support she gave us all was the most important thing. Without her, I couldn’t have got through it.
Emma finished her treatment in August last year.
She said: “My advice to other young people is that if you think something is wrong and you don’t feel like you’re being listened is not to leave it.
"Don’t let them make you feel like you are being paranoid - I just wasn’t believed when I told them that the lump had come up overnight. I’m glad I kept on.
“The main thing I’ve learnt through all of this is to take life too seriously or spend too much time worrying – just to enjoy life as much as you can.”
Find out more
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. Right now we can only help two out of three young cancer patients like Emma.
Help us make it three out of three and donate online.
To find out how CLIC Sargent supports young cancer patients and their families, please visit our help and support section.