My symptoms started during the start of Year 13. The entire academic year was spent in excruciating pain. I had a pain in my tailbone that progressively got worse from not being able to sit in October, to being completely bedridden and unable to stand up by June. I lost 10 KG, I had night fevers and true to its nature, the cancer didn’t let me sleep at night.
Misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, trip after trip to A&E and nine months later, I was eventually diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma. After a collapsed lung, 14 cycles of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy I was clear, before relapsing three months later. What followed was a stem cell harvest from my own cells, surgery, intensive chemotherapy and a reintroduction of my stem cells
Being a girl that loved going out with friends and enjoying my independence, suddenly being cooped up in a room, too ill to go out was a huge change. Cancer really is a lonely place. When all your friends are at university, going to parties, becoming employed, married and parents and you can hardly walk up the stairs without getting winded, it knocks your confidence left, right and centre.
Something us “Cancer kids” all relate to is how a lot of us end up losing our friends along the journey. You see, once you become the sick kid that can’t go out, can’t eat certain things, vomits a lot of the time and can’t walk very far, you stop being invited out because “we just thought you wouldn’t want to come”.
When I heard about Teens Unite, I thought I wouldn’t find anyone I’d talk to let alone get along with. My idea of “meeting other kids like me” was sitting on chairs in a circle and introducing myself and my cancer like, “hey, My name’s Azreen and I have Ewings Sarcoma”. Teens unite was nothing like that. I entered the room as MYSELF and talked about ME. Yes, we all had cancer in common, but we talked about us, what we did at uni or school, what our wishes were for the future, what we like watching on Netflix and if we felt like it… then we’d address the tumour in the room.
What changed me most, for the better, was the Teens Unite Activity Stay. I was really looking forward to getting away, but I was also extremely nervous and anxious about being under the same roof as 20 other kids for six days. But as always, Teens Unite has a solution for everything and a Facebook group was made so we could see who was going, spot familiar faces or get to know the people going beforehand. The days that followed were by far some of the best days of my life, and the friends I made in August are still some of my closest and best friends.
That is what’s so different and wonderful about Teens Unite, you don’t only meet people, you create friendships that last. That girl with the brain tumour ends up becoming your new best friend.
On paper, Teens Unite is a charity that connects you with teenagers and young adults who all have cancer in common. Off paper, it does so much more than that. I speak on behalf of every teen that’s ever been supported by Teens Unite when I say there’s never been a group of people more enthusiastic about improving life for people like me during and after cancer.
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Detailed below are our events for Teens, Volunteers, Fundraising and Challenges.
Volunteering with Teens Unite has changed my personality and outlook on life. When I hear all the amazing things the teens say about Teens Unite, I can tell they mean every word.Nathan, 23, Volunteer
Teens Unite isn't just a charity to me, it was the beginning of restarting my life.Jess, 22, Teen, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
When Elliot started receiving the support of Teens Unite, I could see a change in him straightaway. His outlook on life was becoming positive again and I gained strength from seeing my little boy accepting what had happened and starting to move forward.David, Parent to Elliot, 18, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
I needed help and that's where Teens Unite came in. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and the reason I met Teens Unite was to save my life.Harry, 20, Teen, Testicular Cancer
With Teens Unite, I finally realised that I could climb out of this massive hole that I had been digging because I wasn't alone anymore.Leanne, 21, Teen, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
If it wasn't for Teens Unite, I wouldn't be where I am now. They have been really supportive and given me the strength to push myself and not give up.Derry, 20, Teen, Brain Tumour
My wife inspired me to volunteer following her fight against cancer. I wanted to help others carry on living their lives the way she did. And that's exactly what Teens Unite does.John, 64, Volunteer