A brave Carrickfergus teenager is hoping to inspire others as she shares the story of her cancer journey in an online blog.
Lana Douglas, 17, was diagnosed with high grade B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the beginning of this month.
Affecting the lymphatic system, it is the fifth most common cancer in the UK.
Around 11,500 people are diagnosed with it each year, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
But with the disease more common in those over the age of 65, the diagnosis came as a shock for Lana and her family.
“It started off at the beginning of April as a bad cold and a cough that wouldn’t go away,” said Lana, a lower sixth pupil at Carrick Grammar.
“We were back and forth to the doctor’s and at first they thought it was just a virus, and then glandular fever,” added her mum, Colleen.
“At the beginning of May she developed a swelling in her chest, a lump appeared on her collarbone and she had a bad rash.”
With Lana’s symptoms showing no signs of improving, she was sent for a X-ray by her local GP.
The results discovered tumours in both of Lana’s armpits and on her collarbone.
The official diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma came on June 1 - but amazingly, Lana has taken it all in her stride.
“I had no idea until I got the diagnosis that’s what it would turn out to be, but I just thought, it is what it is, and I just have to deal with it and hope for the best,” she said.
“We really weren’t expecting a cancer diagnosis, but she took it really well. She’s been really brave,” said Colleen.
Lana has already undergone two out of six rounds of chemotherapy as an outpatient at Antrim Area Hospital, where she describes the team of doctors and nurses as “fantastic”.
The cycles of treatment, which are carried out at three-week intervals, will last until October.
With hair loss being one of the most common side effects, Lana decided to take control by shaving her head.
And in an effort to keep herself busy, she has also set up an online blog, ‘Occhiolistic’ - a “safe haven” to chronicle the experience of fighting the disease.
“I’ve had a few blogs before but nothing really like this,” Lana added. “The main goal is to help other people.”
With the blog gathering tens of thousands of views in just a few short weeks, it seems as if the message has struck a cord with readers, some of whom are as far away as Argentina and the Czech Republic.
“The feedback and support I’ve gotten has been amazing, - it’s really helped me,” Lana said.
To visit the blog, go to http://occhiolistic.blogspot.co.uk/