Kettering mum and daughter who both battled cancer share their moving story
They hope to raise awareness of the Teenage Cancer Trust and encourage donations
A Kettering teenager went through cancer treatment after watching her mum do the same - and the pair are sharing their moving story in the run-up to Mother's Day to support a charity.
Molly Halford, 17, and her mum Natalie, are raising awareness of an encouraging donations to Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity which helped Molly through her ordeal but has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic.
Molly was devastated to be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma aged 16, exactly two years to the day after her mum received the all-clear from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
She said: “In July I woke up and discovered lumps protruding on my collarbones in my neck. Normally, I would have ignored it, however, my mother found out she had this cancer in a similar way.
“After everything we had been through with mum, it was a new panic. I immediately thought: ‘I have cancer’ and I went down to show her.
“My parents and I were terrified, praying that we weren’t going to go through this a second time. However, after countless appointments and investigations, in September I received the news that I had Stage 3A Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Teenage Cancer Trust has 28 specialist hospital units around the UK, including at Leicester Royal Infirmary where Molly was treated.
These units bring young people together for expert care in a place designed especially for them.
However, the coronavirus pandemic threw up additional challenges for Molly.
She said: “Being treated on a Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary during a pandemic meant that most of the usual facilities were closed, no fun-group activities were allowed, and I wasn’t able to see or interact with other patients. It was extremely lonely most days during chemotherapy being stuck in one room with nobody else my age who understood what I was going through.
“Even though I did not have access to most things Teenage Cancer Trust usually has to offer, the charity has been amazing and unbelievably determined to make sure I got the best possible treatment and care, not only medically but also socially. Teenage Cancer Trust’s youth support coordinator Lois was there 24/7 for me to contact if I ever needed somebody to speak to. I spent a lot of time with Lois and she really helped me.
“I cannot thank Lois and everybody around me enough for helping me pull through this throughout a terrifying pandemic.”
Teenage Cancer Trust relies entirely on donations but due to the coronavirus faces a shortfall of £6m a year.
But staff like Lois have worked tirelessly through the pandemic and gone above and beyond to ensure young people get the best possible care.
Natalie said: “We both had similar cancer, but Molly’s treatment was far more aggressive and intense - I had six sessions of chemo, but Molly had 22. She also had to take a lot of steroids which affected her mood and weight.
“That combined with the loneliness of cancer treatment during a pandemic meant she struggled, and I’m so glad Lois was there to help her with that.
“I always say that if Teenage Cancer Trust can be this good during a pandemic, what must they be like in normal times? [They're] definitely a charity that’s worthy of support.”
Molly added: “When my mum was sick, she’d still come home and make sure we all had dinner, she was strong and kept everything as normal for us as she could.
“Teenage Cancer Trust’s support has been astronomical. More young people should have access to it.
“But my biggest support has been my mum. She went through a lot when she had cancer and then was with me all through my treatment – she’s amazing.
“I’m proud of her, and after all of this our family is closer than ever.”
To support Teenage Cancer Trust visit their website at www.teenagecancertrust.org/donate.