Posted on Thursday 3 June 2021
Inspiring Dorking cancer survivor gives back after shock diagnosis aged 21
A 24-year-old cancer survivor from Dorking, Surrey, is giving back to the charity that supported her through cancer treatment as well as studying to become a paediatric nurse to help other children and young people facing the disease.
Maisie Nash, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in November 2017, aged 21, while away studying at university in York, and was supported throughout her cancer journey by UK’s leading cancer charity, Young Lives vs Cancer. Maisie is sharing her inspiring story this week as part of Volunteers’ Week.
“What was initially misdiagnosed as bronchitis, glandular fever and a variety of infections and viruses, turned out to be tumours in my neck, chest and stomach. Through an eventual A&E admission, scans, tests and no response to treatments in intensive care, it was confirmed to be blood cancer.”
“Initially I thought that cancer couldn’t possibly be my reality; I was devastated. I had never even been to hospital before. It just felt that all of a sudden everything was spiralling beyond my control and was wholly unprepared for the long-term impact it would have on the rest of my life. We had no history of cancer in the family on either side. I was more angry than upset at the time; I thought this just isn’t fair,” Maisie said.
Maisie underwent her cancer treatment at York Hospital, Leeds St James’s and Royal Marsden.
“Chemotherapy was the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through, with an incredible physical and mental toll that I continue to deal with every day. During the first round of chemotherapy when I was in intensive care, I didn’t really know what was coming so it was bearable, but shortly afterwards, I felt the sickest I’ve ever felt. I had all the usual side effects, I was tired, I lost all my hair. But what I struggled with most was managing the physical weakness and sickness – it was debilitating and took so long to get under control and in the midst of everything else it just made the whole treatment process seem like a never-ending nightmare.”
“At the start of my treatment, I was introduced to Young Lives vs Cancer and received invaluable support across many aspects: help with financial strain of cancer such as not using public transport, travelling for treatment and scans, visiting me in hospital, to organising my wig fitting and just being there as a support in the toughest period of my life both during and after treatment. The work carried out by all at Young Lives vs Cancer continues to make such a meaningful difference to children, young people and their supporting families,” Maisie said.
Almost three years later, Maisie has finished treatment and is in remission. She has returned to university and is retraining to be a paediatric nurse as well as volunteering for Young Lives vs Cancer as a First Responder.
“I was inspired to apply for First Responder as it would complement and accompany skills I was already learning and developing in nursing and give me the chance to increase my confidence interacting with young people with cancer. I also wanted to give back and support others in the same way I had benefited myself. For the first time since my diagnosis, I think I am finally beginning to realise that everything really does happen for a reason in life – a phrase I spent the past three years fighting so hard, naively determined that cancer would have no lasting impact on me as a person. I am now passionate about turning my own awful experience into a very positive outcome for others; I am very grateful that volunteering for Young Lives vs Cancer, along with my nursing degree has allowed me to do this.”
Lauren Smith, Young Lives vs Cancer Head of Volunteering, said:
“This 1-7 June it’s national Volunteers’ Week and we would like to thank all our incredible volunteers for everything they do. From our first responders, bucket collectors, shop volunteers, to those making our Homes from Home as homely as they can for families staying together near treatment centres – we are so grateful for all you do. It’s thanks to the support and dedication of volunteers like Maisie that Young Lives vs Cancer can be there to help families find the strength to face whatever cancer throws at them.”
Notes to editors
For more information, an interview or images, please contact Kelli Hooks on 07771 830 960 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
About cancer in children and young people
Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.
About Young Lives vs Cancer
When a child is diagnosed with cancer life becomes full of fear, for them and their family. Fear of treatment, but also of families being torn apart, overwhelming money worries, of having nowhere to turn, no one to talk to.
At Young Lives vs Cancer, we help families find the strength to face whatever cancer throws at them.
Powered by the kindness of our supporters, we’ll face it all together. For more information, visit www.younglivesvscancer.org.uk
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