A fashion student who was diagnosed with cancer after a series of chest pains has decided to throw away her wigs during her chemotherapy treatment.
22-year-old Olivia Smith, from Southampton, first experienced chest pains while on holiday in Menorca, Spain.
A GP is said to have later dismissed her pains, before misdiagnosing it as costochondritis – an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage.
But shortly after, Olivia noticed a few lumps on her neck. It turned out to be Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Olivia told the MailOnline:
I started to notice something was wrong whilst I was on holiday in Menorca last year. When I drunk even just a sip of alcohol I would get a pain in my chest.
This went on for a few weeks, so I made an appointment with my GP. First of all, the doctor told me that there was no possible correlation between drinking alcohol and having a pain in your chest.
I was told to simply not drink any alcohol. But being the sociable twenty-one-year-old that I was, I didn’t stop, I simply just ignored the pain, but after a few months the pain got worse.
I made another GP appointment where I was again misdiagnosed with costochondritis.
It’s the Monday of my ‘good’ week – usually at this point I have made plans for every day until I’m due to have chemo again. I always wanted to make the most of every day I feel okayish, I thought this was the best way to stay happy… to keep cancer off the mind. – – I’ve realised now that to run myself to ruin, to end up so knackered I end up in hospital with sepsis (twice) isn’t going to let my body heal. Or my mind. – – The mental aspect of this has been by a mile the hardest part. So this week I feel I’ve made the most progress I’ve made yet so far. To accept I need rest, to come to terms with what’s happened to me, to not break down every time my mind isn’t occupied. – – Sometimes you don’t have to step forward to make progress, sometimes sitting still is the progress. (@working.girl.life) – – So…. this week you’ll find me RESTING for the first time since my diagnosis, focussing on being the healthiest version of me I can be for chemo on Monday… ? #chemo #cancerrightnow #standuptocancer #napneeded
A few weeks later I noticed a few lumps had appeared on my neck, so I went back to the GP where they then referred me to see the lymphoma specialist.
Before this day I had never even heard of the word Lymphoma. On the day I went to the lymphoma clinic I had an X-ray. It became pretty clear that I did have cancer because the X-ray showed several growths.
The weeks that followed were full of a lot of “why me” tears; I would fill my drive to work with plans of how I would tell my family the news and mostly worrying about how ugly I would look with no hair.
People want to be there for you, and that is so kind, but to be so upset I actually end up consoling them over the situation is frustrating and you leave the conversation feeling down yourself.
Olivia says she’s now replaced the ‘why me’ tears with a strong trust in her ‘journey’:
I have fully come to terms with the fact I am battling cancer at age 22 and it truly has taught me so much.
Yes, I feel like cancer has stolen a year of my life. But, Hodgkin’s is curable. I am being cured; my recent scans show no remaining tumours after only two cycles of Adriamycin bleomycin vinblastine dacarbazine (ABVD) chemotherapy.
I still have to go through the full six months of chemo to ensure that they have got it all. But I believe everything happens for a reason. That reason being I will grab life with both hands after all of this.
Make peace with your past and don’t let it spoil the present. I am lucky enough to be given another chance at life. I have fallen apart and oh boy am I putting the pieces back together differently.
What an incredible woman.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 8pm).