Posted on Monday 17 January 2022

Sophia’s story: “It felt like it came out of nowhere”

Sophia loves to perform and up to the age of 15, her life had revolved around singing, dancing and acting. She had studied at Italia Conti Academy of Theatres Arts, been to the BRIT school, was part of the cast of Matilda the Musical on the West End and was performing at every opportunity she got. Then, in the lead up to her GCSEs, Sophia started to feel unwell.

“I started getting bad headaches. I was revising for my exams at the time so my GP thought it was down to stress but after a while they got worse and I started vomiting too.”

Sophia had started sitting her GCSEs but partway into her exams, she was taken to A&E for a scan after her symptoms got worse.

After several tests, including an X-Ray, Sophia and her parents were told she had a type of brain cancer called medulloblastoma and would need surgery.

“It felt like it came out of nowhere because before this I’d never been to a hospital before. I’d never broken a bone or had stitches or anything.”

Sophia remembers her Mum, Dad and sister being in tears as the doctor gave the news of her diagnosis but she was too shocked and confused to react. She recalls almost feeling like laughing because it felt like it must have been a joke. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, while in critical care, that Sophia asked her Dad ‘do I have cancer?’ and he said yes, that she realised the reality.

Sophia then went on to have several surgeries and treatment including chemotherapy and radiotherapy over the next few months. Despite missing some of her GCSEs and sitting most of them with bad headaches, she managed to get good grades and is now studying for her A Levels.

Sophia struggles with her mobility and can often suffer from seizures, as a side effect to her treatment.

Sophia’s Young Lives vs Cancer social worker Lyn has been a big help to her and her family throughout diagnosis, treatment and now as Sophia gets back to school and manages her side effects.

Sophia’s Dad Patrick said: “During the very difficult time at coming to terms with my daughter’s brain tumour, our Social Worker, Lyn, provided invaluable help, she was one of a few people who managed to get us through this time.”

From the moment Sophia was diagnosed with cancer, she stopped performing. She went from singing and performing every day to not singing at all, even at home. During lockdown, her ex-Matilda cast mates encouraged her to sing again as part of a virtual choir to raise money for charity.

After not singing in public for two years, Sophia performed at a Young Lives vs Cancer fundraising gala

Then, two years after her last public performance, Sophia was part of the Young Lives vs Cancer ensemble who sang at their annual fundraising gala in 2021. She sang in front of hundreds of people, for the first time since her diagnosis.

As well as continuing her performing, Sophia hopes to one day become a radiographer, to help people like herself one day.

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