A TEENAGE cancer patient who dreams of being a nurse is urging women to follow in her footsteps and sign up for this year’s Race for Life.
Harrogate student Annie Coyne, 17, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer that starts from white blood cells in the bone marrow, in 2016.
Just two days after leaving hospital last July, she took part in the Race for Life event at Ripley Castle alongside her mother, grandmother and best friend - despite struggling with severe pain in her legs and back which restricts her mobility.
Annie, who is a pupil at St Aidan’s Sixth Form, initially went to hospital with back ache, but blood tests revealed her condition was far more serious - ALL.
She said: “When the doctor came to see me with the initial results I just had a feeling it was going to be bad and didn’t want my mum to have to hear it, so I sent her out. When they told me it was something much worse I just broke down and kept repeating ‘just please don’t let it be cancer’.”
Annie’s mum Helen, 47, said: “In an instant everything changed. One minute we were waiting for something to help with back ache the next we were spending over a month in hospital with Annie being treated for cancer. It moved incredibly fast and it was so scary to see your child go through all this.”
Before diagnosis Annie had just joined sixth form to start her A-Levels, but took a year out to have treatment. She re-joined in September 2017 after a break of 1 year and 4 months and had to start in the year below her age group to catch up.
Annie said: “It was really nerve-racking going back to school. I had to make new friends and struggled with being known as the girl with cancer. Keeping up with my work has also been harder due to ‘chemo brain’ which means I struggle a lot with my short term memory as well as struggling to form words and the speed of my writing, which could be because of my stroke.
“Cancer is really scary for anyone especially for my age group so when people found out I had cancer it made it even harder to make friends. That’s why the family I have formed on the cancer ward in Leeds has been even more important. They know exactly what I’m going through and can support me. I’m determined to keep up with school work and do well in my A-Levels so I can be a nurse, but it is hard.”
Annie is still undergoing maintenance chemotherapy which keeps her system clear of the disease and will complete this in December 2018, over two years since her diagnosis.
This summer she will return to Race for Life 5k in Harrogate on Sunday July 15 to share her story, raise awareness of childhood cancers and help fund more research.
Her mother said: “I’m so proud to sign up to Race for Life alongside my daughter. As a family, we’re determined to do all that we can to help raise money for life-saving research. Every participant can help make a real difference.”
To enter Race for Life visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.