Amrik- one of Macmillan's main supporters, has written about being diagnosed with cancer age 18, having to put his studies on hold and the light he found at the end of the tunnel. I was lucky enough to meet Amrik and his positivity and for life and drive is inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story.

I’ve always found that talking about cancer and my experience as a patient and a survivor as rather cathartic and I hope that in some way, if you are reading this as a patient, that it offers comfort and support in any way you might need it. 

I was diagnosed at the age of 18 with Hodgkin Lymphoma (IV). For a while I had self-medicated the various symptoms purely because they seemed fairly menial. To me, slight back pain and a cough that hadn’t budged were the consequences of being active and stressed with school work respective, and understandably, I had never thought that I’d wind up in a chemotherapy suite little over two months later. Diagnosis and the process that comes with it was undeniably one of the hardest experiences. Given my age, Doctors did not immediately associate my symptoms with cancer and so I found myself undergoing tests for a number of other infections before the possibility of the ‘Big C’ was even muttered. Eventually, after an agonising wait, the worst was confirmed and six months of treatment lay ahead.

The next part remains a blur, especially with regards to treatment. Caught up in the whirlwind that is studying for A-Levels, school life was even more hectic given that I had at least two days a week reserved to have treatment and recover from it in time for classes. The support of my friends, family and teachers at this time was invaluable. I won't lie, the prospect of going back to school each week with a thinner head of hair and an even lankier frame daunted me, but it never seemed to be an issue, even with those that barely knew me. My teachers made sure that I was always up to speed with work and never expected much in return which took a whole load off my mind. Family members knew exactly how to help me through this torrid time, the way we always have done with our backs against the wall: with humour. My sister halted her trip around South East Asia just to be at my side - in fact, Rani saw the bad news as an ideal chance to hit the bottle and get unbelievably drunk. She probably doesn't remember that though, but we all recall that phone call... Mum and Dad were fantastic too. I guess the main gist of what I'm saying here is that there is always a support network available to you. I suspect the vast majority of patients at my age will immediately reach out to family members. There's nothing quite like the love of a mother, father or a sibling - no matter how annoying they are! 

I'm currently slaving away in the library studying for my finals at King's College London (KCL). University has been a fresh start that I desperately needed after two bouts of Chemotherapy from 2010 to 2012. In fact, the timing of the ending of my treatment to the start of university couldn't have been better. I had a whole summer to recuperate, grow my hair back and regain any weight that I'd lost. Being fit and able once again has allowed me to take up sport again and this year I was elected as KCL Hockey Club President. Playing competitive sport has immersed me in the social life that I missed out for two years as a cancer patient and it's one of the main reasons that I've been able to move on from that time so quickly. King's College London were so accommodating to me too, as I had originally planned to join in September of 2011, but due to an unexpected relapse of my disease I had to defer. Now, I won't name the universities that declined my deferral because I still believe they were unethical in doing so but I owe an enormous amount to KCL Classics department for their continued care and the decision to take me on despite being a year 'behind'. University life has been punctuated only very rarely by trips to the hospital for the odd check-up and I have, ever since moving to London, had the same person accompany me and I have to publicly thank George for never complaining despite the amount of time you've spent in that waiting room!

To this day I maintain that any experience with cancer is to be embraced and talked about. If you are reading this as a survivor, patient or relative/friend of a patient, I'd urge you to find positives and to always aim for the light at the end of the tunnel, because it's never as far away as you may think. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to every person I've met along this journey because not one of them has reminded me of the gravity of the situation and as a result my illness was made to seem menial and my future has become all the more appetising.

Click to find Amrik on Twitter @amriknagra

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