Diagnosis and coping with putting your life on pause

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Hi all,

I’m a 22 y/o female and I was just today told I have cancer, unsure what cancer it is yet but I have a big tumour in my right kidney that apparently doesn’t look like a typical renal cancer tumour. 

I’m still processing everything and I’m obviously spiralling a little but trying to do my best to stay positive and work through this rather than jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst. 

Right now is meant to be a really exciting period of my life as I’m in my penultimate year at uni and was due to go on exchange in 2 weeks to Argentina. I’m typically someone who likes being busy and I’m very ambitious and am the type of person who has a 5 year plan so knowing I’m having to put everything on pause is really difficult for me. I was also at the beginning of a very exciting romantic relationship with someone I really really like but I don’t know how to tell him and also what to expect from him. Obviously I see myself with him very seriously but now I have all this baggage. 

Does anyone have any advice in adjusting to putting your life on hold and taking each day as it comes?

All the best

  • my heart goes out to you

  • Do you have family or friends you usually talk to or does it not really help because they don’t understand?

  • Hi there, 

    I was also diagnosed at 22 just over a year ago. I am now in remission so hoping my experience will give you something positive to look towards. 

    spiralling is totally natural so don’t think you’re going crazy, you’re told one day you have cancer then just whisked away home whilst treatments plans are made. My sleep went wild and I think it took me until after treatment to process what the fuck had just happened. Keeping myself busy was the hardest thing, I was a very social person, went out a lot, at uni and just living my student life!! 

    I moved back home for my treatment as having family support was lovely and I had surgeries so a uni house was not the place to recover. But between treatment and surgery going back for a few days really gave me (and my family) a break from reality.

    My life went on pause with my future plans - I withdrew from uni as I wanted to focus on treatment and as I studied nursing going on placements wasn’t possible. Doing academic work is sometimes a good way to keep your mind busy but don’t push yourself too hard. You can always go back when treatment is over. I have returned to uni now and yes I have felt a little behind as my friends have all graduated and got their big girl jobs but know in a matter of months I will be doing the same and the one year I did have to take out won’t be noticeable - sometimes this is so hard to see though! 

    BUT everytime I felt up to it, I was out living. I went to festivals (please ask doctor first), concerts, mini UK holidays, dog walks with family, drinks at the local pub, coffee dates and even having a few friends round for a gossip kept me sane through treatment! 

    Regarding dating and relationships (always fun at this age lol), I started seeing someone shortly after my treatment was finished - my body is now quite different so something for them (and myself) to be comfortable around. I also had a surgery following treatment and I can tell you now it was the best support I had!! We are not even together now (nothing to do with my cancer) and I wouldn’t change a thing. 

    Telling someone news like this isn’t always nice, people can react in all kinds of different ways. But you will find your own way of telling people eventually and having your friends there to support, distract and keep you busy is just what you need sometimes.

    my friends often laugh about who got told first (awfully delivered) and as I got down the list of friends it was delivered more sensitively. Having a bit of dark humour and a joke was one way I coped - but not for everyone of course! 

    Wishing you all the best for the next coming weeks!! There is so much support out there Teenage Cancer Trust and Young lives VS cancer are 2 charities that supported me if you wanted to check them out!

  • This is actually so helpful, thank you so much I really appreciate it! I’ve been better since my diagnosis but still taking each day as it comes. It’s nice to hear from someone who was in a similar situation and you have honestly helped me a lot. Wishing you all the best x