Posted on Sunday 31 January 2021

Stefan’s story: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have”

Stefan, 23 was diagnosed with cancer in August 2020, during the pandemic, and talks about finding strength and staying positive throughout his treatment:

“My cancer journey started in November 2019 with some back pain and ended with a lymphoma diagnosis. The first time I noticed something was wrong, was when I was getting lower back pain. As time passed, things started to get worse and my pain shifted and spread to my hip. It became difficult to get up in the morning, sit at my desk or sleep in bed due to the pain.

“From the first time I contacted my doctors about it, I received four different potential diagnoses (slipped disc, pinched sciatic nerve, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) and had several scans and blood tests. After seven months of investigations and multiple referrals, I finally received my stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. I was prescribed six months of chemotherapy treatment.

“Having been misdiagnosed with life-long conditions such as arthritis, or slipped disc which would require constant medication or surgery and six months of bed recovery for the latter, when I got my lymphoma diagnosis it was shocking but somehow relieving. Chemotherapy is hard and can be quite daunting but at least with this treatment I was going to keep some independence and I was able to work or tend to my hobbies most days which gave me the strength to keep on going.

Stefan has been supported by CLIC Sargent since his diagnosis. 

“My CLIC Sargent social worker Glyn has also been invaluable throughout all of this – I’ve spoken to him a few times and he’s really helpful. He’s helped me get a grant to cover costs like hospital parking and has pointed me towards other charity services I can access, such as mental health support.

Stefan is supported our World Cancer Day campaign and spoke of how the word strength best reflected his experience. 

“If I had to choose a word to describe this whole experience is strength. Whether it was strength given from all the people around me through cards and encouragements, or strength I found within myself, strength is something I discovered in this journey.

“No matter how big and scary the word cancer can be, it’s only when you’re face with it and you have no other option but to fight you realise your true strength. For anyone else with lymphoma or cancer out there, remember that you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

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