A teenager diagnosed with cancer just weeks before starting university has vowed to beat the disease and live her life to the full.
Only three months ago, Tiffany Williams, 18, was excitedly making plans to begin a four-year degree course studying Tourism Management at the University of Chester, in the first step to achieve her life ambition of owning a hotel abroad.
But after doctors noticed some lumps on her neck during a routine appointment, the 18-year-old’s life was turned upside down when tests revealed she had Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and she was told she would need treatment urgently.
The news came as a horrible shock to Tiffany, of Stratford Road, Blacon, who is currently undergoing one of five cycles of chemotherapy at the Countess of Chester Hospital, which will be followed by a course of radiotherapy.
Throughout her treatment, she’s suffered several difficult setbacks such as a sore mouth, loss of appetite and losing her hair, which she says is her pride and joy – but in spite of all this, Tiffany remains upbeat, positive and determined to beat cancer and move on with her life.
“When I was told I had cancer, I sat on the chair and it was like everything just went past me, I couldn’t take it in,” she recalled.
“It hasn’t been easy but I’m coping really well and I actually see myself as really lucky that I’m curable - in six months I will be in remission but others are not so lucky.”
Tiffany, who is about to start her university course and has just moved into halls of residence at the university, added: “I’m very determined this is not going to beat me. My doctors at the Countess are very driven and help you strive to reach your ambitions - they’re brilliant. There was a stage I thought I might have had to miss out on university but I will do it, I’ve worked so hard to get where I am and I want my independence. I just cannot wait to start.”
But her cancer treatment wasn’t the only big thing Tiffany had to think about this summer - on doctors suggestions, she was advised to undergo four weeks of fertility treatment to ensure she is able to have children in the future, despite any side effects from the cancer treatment, and her eggs have now been frozen for use whenever she is ready to become a mother.
“Even if my fertility hasn’t been affected by the chemo, it’s better to be on the safe side,” said Tiffany.
“Cancer is a terrible disease and I want to do everything I can to keep living my life. If I don’t go to uni, I’m sitting thinking about it and where would that get me? At least I’ll be a step closer to fulfilling my ambitions - after uni I’d love to work as cabin crew for Emirates, and then eventually own my own hotel abroad.
“And that’s not just a dream - because I will make it happen.”
Tiffany is taking part in Chester’s March On Cancer event on October 11, starting at 7.30pm at Grosvenor Park. The event, which is part of the national initiative Stand Up to Cancer sees participants will come together and march through the streets accompanied by live music, entertainment and stories from people who have beaten cancer.