Updated: Feb 29, 2020
For World Cancer Day this year, the charity Trekstock has launched their 'Your Voices' campaign through which they are sharing the stories of young people in the UK with cancer.
Every day in the UK 34 young adults join 'The 34 Club', the Club that nobody wants to be a part of or chooses to be, AKA 'The Cancer Club'.
As you well know, one day in January 2016 I was one of the 34 to receive a cancer diagnosis as a young person. I was just 18, and the diagnosis was extremely scary and isolating.
Trekstock is a charity that provides support for people in their 20s and 30s with cancer. They organise meet-ups around the country, and are particularly keen on improving the quality of life of such people through encouraging things like exercise. They have a great programme for young people who have gone through cancer treatment and are looking to getting back into exercise but aren't sure how to do so in a safe, measured, and fun way.
When I was 18, I did find myself in a bit of a pickle. I had just left home and started university, so I felt like I was just becoming a proper adult. But, I wasn't quite an adult just yet, and definitely didn't fit into the teenage/children group anymore. I found it extremely difficult to find support that was right for me, as 20-30 felt too old/mature for me, and the teenage charities felt too young. Trekstock were my best option, but unfortunately at the time it wasn't quite the best fit. No charity seemed to be aimed at someone like me.
This little story doesn't have much of a happy ending, as I never did find that support system for people around 18 years of age going through university with cancer... Funnily enough we are a very small group of people.
I managed through meeting people online, following people's stories on Instagram and YouTube, and talking to a couple people I had been introduced to at uni who had had similar experiences to me. But, I spent a long time feeling really alone. A lot of time, and surrounding myself with good people helped me get over those feelings, and I now love being part of the young-cancer community, and am very grateful to be part of campaigns like this one ran by Trekstock, even if I wasn't technically in my 20s when I was diagnosed!
To anyone who is going through cancer and feels like they don't belong to any group, who feels particularly isolated and doesn't know what to do - seek help, and speak out. It may be difficult at first, you may think nobody will understand, but I promise just letting out your feelings will be a big help, and will bring your friends closer to you again. And don't be afraid to get involved with charities, you never know until you try!
If you want to have a look at Trekstock's campaign and read some of the stories of other young people with cancer then follow this link. I promise it's not all doom and gloom - all the stories include what has helped them thrive through their diagnosis, which I think is a wonderful idea! Cancer patients are just people too, and even through the harshest of times, there are positive experiences.
Thanks for reading, and I will be with you again tomorrow for another blog! (How exciting?!)
This year I am going to be taking on lots of random challenges, on top of running/swimming/cycling 500k over the year! This is all in support of Sarcoma UK, the national sarcoma charity that funds vital research and support for patients and their families affected by the rare cancer. If you want to support me, then you can donate whatever you can through this link. Even £1 would be greatly appreciated, and you can donate completely anonymously!! Thank you!