AwareNow: Issue 20: The Kind Edition

Page 98

Tanith: You mentioned before that you were in denial, even following your first surgery, when did the reality set in and how did you process that?

Sofia: When they told me, it came out of nowhere because before this I'd never been to a hospital once. I'd never broken a bone or anything. I’ve never had stitches, I've never had surgery, I've never had anything to do with hospital, so it was a bit odd that the first time, it would be something that serious. We weren't expecting anything like that, we were pretty much expecting them to say it's just a stress headache. I do remember I was so confused, my mum and dad and sister were in tears. I remember just sitting there and I almost laughed, because I just couldn't handle the fact that this was happening. I was thinking it was a joke, so I kind of sat there and laughed at the doctor. I still remember when they said you need to go into surgery and I just went back to my phone and laughing with my sister. I didn't realise what I was getting myself into. And then, I think, after spending some time in the critical care unit, because I was on so many drugs at that time, I wasn't really aware of my surroundings and what was happening. I think it was around three weeks after I’d had all of my brain surgeries. I finally went to my dad and I turned around and said, ‘Do I have cancer?' And he said yes, and that was when I realised.

Sofia: (continued) They wanted me to go straight to get my treatment but unfortunately I wasn't well enough to be transported to a different hospital. At the time I was barely able to move my neck or sit up straight. There was no way they could do it so we had to spend a couple of months in Kings Hospital before I got to go to the Royal Marsden and do my treatment.

Tanith: What advice would you give to any young person that might be going through a similar experience?

Sofia: It’s hard because I think everybody copes with it in a different way but I would say just take each day as it comes. I remember spending days and days thinking, what's going to happen tomorrow? What's gonna happen the day after that? That would just get me worked up, and all you really need to do is think of today and what's happening. I would always tell myself if I'm feeling bad, or feeling sick or I'm in pain because of my chemo, the cancer cells are gonna be feeling 10 times worse. You're actually much stronger than the cancer is so you're dealing with the lighter side of it. The cancer is gonna get the main brunt of it. The main thing I would say to cancer patients is that it's all right to cry and be sad, it's all right to be angry, and to lash out and go crazy with it, because not a lot of people have to deal with that kind of pain at such a young age. I would just say if you feel like crying, cry, if you feel like getting angry and punching your pillow, just punch your pillow. Get all of your emotions out because it's not very healthy to try and keep them in and pretend you're not struggling. You're stronger anyway because you're going through this.

Tanith: How are you doing health wise now and what does the future hold for you?

Sofia: Currently I’m in remission. I'm having four monthly MRI scans and I'm free of cancer so I'm happy about that. Unfortunately I'm still having chronic sickness due to the place where the cancerous brain tumour was so I still vomit and feel nauseous and stuff like that. I’m also in a wheelchair so my mobility is not good at all, but right now I'm in school doing A levels and I'm trying to study. I want to be a Radiographer, so I'm trying to get into universities so I can study radiography and hopefully become somebody that can help other people like me.

Tanith: I love that your journey inspired you to take a different pathway! Will you still continue acting and performing?

Sofia: It is a very fun hobby, I'll never ever stop singing and acting and dancing, because it’s how I have fun, it’s basically most of my life before so I don't think I could ever give up on it, but after this experience my main kind of dream is to just help other people going through the same thing as I was going through. ∎


Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global Tanith is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.