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Meet Lucy and Phoebe

Lucy and Phoebe earned their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award after completing an expedition through the Mournes with our team. During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, they are sharing what this experience has meant to them, after being diagnosed with cancer as young people.

My name is Lucy. I am 15 years old. I was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour called Medulloblastoma. After two brain surgeries I received 6 weeks of proton beam therapy in Manchester and 8 months of chemotherapy in Belfast. Doing the Duke of Edinburgh has really made me see that I was much braver, stronger and smarter than I thought I was. I felt that this was my chance to really see what I could achieve after treatment. I am most proud of the challenge of walking through the wet Mournes. I slipped a few times, but something told me to keep going. The thought of what I could look forward to when I had finished kept me going.

Having cancer as a child is like someone has flipped a pause switch on your childhood for a while, but it is your job to flip it back round again. It may take longer to flip back than others but just remember everyone has a different switch to flip. I want people to know that cancer did disrupt my childhood but I will no longer let it disrupt my life.

15 year old Lucy who was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma

I really enjoyed doing the Duke Of Edinburgh. I didn’t think it would be something that I’d enjoy, but I even enjoyed the routes we did, even when I felt tired or wanted it to be over. It was really nice getting to do it with other people who had an understanding of what living with cancer was like, whether they had it themselves or if they had a sibling or parent who had it, and no one felt pressure to discuss it. Learning to make tents, cook with each other and rely on each other to help read the map was definitely a bonding experience I would recommend to anyone.

I felt most proud of myself once I finished the first day. If I had done Duke of Edinburgh a year prior I wouldn’t have been able to walk nearly half as far as I did just on our first route. Being able to walk through and up the mountains without being extremely tired by the end and then going on to walk another route to then help build my own tent and make my own dinner was something I didn’t think I was going to be able to do.

Being a teenager with cancer is very difficult, just like it would be for anyone any age to have cancer. Unfortunately, the thing about getting it so young is that you don’t get to have a normal teenage experience, like your friends. You miss out on a lot, like meeting new people, trying new activities and simply just going to school. It was devastating knowing that I may never get to experience any of those things but knowing that I was getting better and that I am able to do all those things and way more now is amazing. When I was able to start doing things again, I learned that people don’t know anything about cancer or how to react to it, which is understandable. However, I also learned that people are more scared of the word – cancer – itself. Because of that, people of every age can and will treat you differently. From this experience you do lose friends and make some better ones, or even become closer to ones you already have. I have tried way more things and got so many more opportunities from having cancer that I wouldn’t have ever got otherwise. Although having childhood cancer is scary and something I hope not many people experience there are definitely perks that do come from it.

16 year old Phoebe who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Help us support more young people like Lucy and Phoebe this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Donate here today.