Mo was diagnosed after experiencing severe back pain. The news came over 20 years after his mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and his young brother Bilal was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Mo’s concerns about his symptoms were initially dismissed by GPs as a muscle injury due to working in a warehouse, and he was sent away with exercises to do at home.
Mo said: “Over a period of four months, I was constantly going to the doctors but it didn’t get any better. I wasn’t able to sleep at all, I had to wake up in the night and sleep on the floor. It was really painful, I was just thinking this is not normal for someone my age.
“They gave me tablets to help me sleep but I thought this was not the real problem - at least do a scan. They knew my family history with cancer but still didn’t offer me anything else.”
Rushed to hospital
A scan was eventually arranged but Mo was rushed to hospital before this date as his auntie, who also works in the hospital, saw him vomiting and called an ambulance.
“If it wasn’t for my auntie, it could have been very different. I got the diagnosis the same day I went to the hospital where I was still vomiting," Mo said.
“A few hours later, two doctors came in, closed the curtain behind them, one of them kneeled down and said 'it looks like its cancer'.
"Mum was there with me, she started crying, but, to be honest, I felt relieved at least I found out what’s causing the pain.
“I was in the same hospital where my mum had treatment for breast cancer and in the same year my brother was diagnosed with ALL. They won their battle with cancer so it made it seem easier for me to think we can through it again. If they can get through it, I can.”
Mo underwent four cycles of chemotherapy starting in August 2016 after being transferred to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. Mo, one of four children, had great support from his family during this time.
"Although my family had been through it, it was all new to me personally, I didn’t really know what to expect.
"When I was on the chemo the type I had was non-stop, it ruined my taste buds so I couldn’t eat anything and my hair fell out. I was unable to communicate and lost motivation to walk."
“It must have been difficult for my family. They are all working but they would come and stay with me in the evenings even till gone midnight - bringing food and home comforts like my duvet. It meant a lot to me to have their support, I was very lucky.
“We are a pretty close family but this did help to bring us closer. It was strange to see them there, it was very different to being at home.”
Mo was given the all clear in October 2016 and was looking to the future, and applying for colleges. To celebrate the end of his treatment, the family went on holiday to Portugal but cruelly the holiday was cut short as Mo fell ill again.
“One day when I was in a Jacuzzi my leg and stomach felt weird, I couldn’t move my leg so I had to get my sister to help me out, they took me to hospital in Portugal. I was scared because I thought it could be anything, just a week before, even just a day before, I was absolutely fine.
“The hospital was difficult because they didn’t speak English. I was in a wheelchair and they told me to get up and walk which I did and they said it was fine. I knew something was wrong so we got a flight back the next day and as soon as we got back we went straight to hospital.”
After tests through the night, at 5am the following morning, Mo was told doctors had found a tumour in his brain.
Mo underwent surgery in February 2017 to remove the tumour and radiotherapy following that to shrink the parts they couldn’t remove.
He now has scans to monitor the tumour and it’s unclear at the moment whether he will need more treatment in the future.
During this difficult time, Mohammed received support from a CLIC Sargent social worker who provided practical, emotional and financial support.
“I met Charlotte on my first day, she came to see me in the hospital and explained what the charity do, she was very nice to speak to.
"I was surprised this support was available, she was suggesting things I would never have thought of, like help with travel and money issues."
"The financial help and the CLIC Sargent grant was important, it helped me a lot especially because I had no work.”
“Some days because of the chemo I wouldn’t be talking to anyone but Charlotte comes in chats to me and makes me happy. She changes my whole mood.
"She talks to my mum and helps her in any way she can which takes the pressure off the family. She organised for us to have a break as a family which made a massive difference too.”
Now Mo and his family are determined to give something back by supporting CLIC Sargent’s World Cancer Day campaign. Supporters can donate £2 to get their own Band Against Cancer wristband to raise vital funds and awareness.
Mo explained: “As a family we are really proud to wear our Band Against Cancer wristbands because CLIC Sargent made such a difference for us. Buying a band and raising awareness is such an easy way to make sure families like mine get the support they need.”
With your help, CLIC Sargent can reach more families like Mohammed’s through our support workers and nurses who provide practical, emotional and financial support, to help minimise the damage cancer causes to young people beyond their health.