Farid’s story: Cancer diagnosis turns studying and socialising to hospital visits

Farid first went to the doctors when he noticed his eye had started swelling. Over the next few months, his eye was getting progressively bigger and he was struggling to see. A scan later showed he had a tumour behind his eye and would need to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. 

At the time of his diagnosis, Farid had a holiday booked with his friends, was studying for his university degree and was working at a new job. All of this had to be put on hold for him to start treatment. 

Throughout treatment, Farid was supported by Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker Mel who helped him face the costs of cancer by providing grants and was someone Farid could reach out to whenever he needed. 

Cancer takes a lot. But when you’re a teenager or young adult, it can feel like it takes your voice and your independence too. This Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Awareness Month, we are passing the mic to young people like Farid to share his experience… 

Farid is lying down on a sofa wearing a black jumper - he is smiling at the camera and has a bandage over his left eye, which is swollen

Farid was diagnosed with cancer after noticing his eye had swollen

“I noticed that my eye started swelling up, it looked like I’d been hit in the face and then it progressively got worse and I started to worry so I went to the hospital. They did lots of visual tests – and my vision wasn’t distorted even though my eye was swollen. After two and a half weeks I was driving to work but I had double vision, I started getting a bit scared. I started calling in sick to work from then because I couldn’t go in and I was quite self-conscious about my eye. 

“It was gradually getting worse, my eye was protruding from my head significantly – it no longer looked like I’d been punched in the eye it looked like my eye was going to drop out of my head so they said there’d have to be something that’s causing this so when I did a scan that’s when they saw something behind my eye. I had surgery to have some of the mass removed and tested.  After the surgery that’s when things moved quite quickly.  

“I was sitting at the dinner table in the dining room with my mum, they called me 4:30ish and said ‘are you free to talk right now?’ They said ‘you have a cancerous tumour’ – I told my mum and my dad and they were speechless, they didn’t know what to say.” 

Farid was invited to come into the hospital a couple of days later to speak about the diagnosis in person. 

“I asked a lot of questions, I wanted to know – I’ve always been quite inquisitive but when it comes to something like this like health related I just want to know. Is my vision going? Am I going to be able to complete my university studies? Is this going to affect me going to work?” 

He went on to have several rounds of chemotherapy followed by some radiotherapy treatment and finished with another couple of cycles of chemo. 

“Your life is pretty much on hold – no matter how determined you are, you don’t have the energy to do 95% of what you did before, you’re at risk because your immune system is really low so if even if you could do it, would you want to? My social activities with my friends took a sharp decline, I couldn’t do things that I’d usually do.” 

Farid was in his final year of university and the uni advised him to take a year out, but he was determined to finish and complete the year after all of the hard work he had put in. 

“The main advice was for me to take a break for a year, which I don’t think was very sympathetic personally – I’d studied four years of university, I’d done all the work and it was in the final stages and then been advised to take a year out – you want me to put my life on hold, why can’t things be recorded and sent to me. I eventually was transferred to a tutor – she was also my dissertation supervisor – who helped me with everything and organised me to have a note taker.” 

As well as disrupting his university degree, Farid was also unable to work but also had new costs to pay out for including travelling to hospital. Mel, his Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker, was able to help by contacting his uni and by providing him with grants. 

“Mel was the one who contacted my uni. I had noone who was helping to do that before and I was struggling to do it myself. Mel was fantastic and I will never forget the help she gave me throughout my treatment.” 

Farid has now graduated from university, is back at work building his career and has plans to one day start his own business. 

Author: Emma

Posted on Thursday 28 March 2024

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