A university student who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma will be running the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k to raise money for the cancer charity that supported her during her treatment.
Anna Stark, a second-year student at the University of Bristol, was 20 when she first found a lump on her neck.
After going to the doctors to get it checked out she was promptly sent for an ultra sound, followed by a biopsy and further tests. A few weeks later, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Although she was diagnosed during the university summer holiday, Anna decided to stay in Bristol so she could be treated at her local Teenage Cancer Trust specialist unit, Area 61, at the Bristol Royal Infirmary’s Haematology and Oncology Centre.
The unit is a specialist ward for 16-24 year-olds who are diagnosed with cancer and was where Anna went through her treatment with weekly visits for chemotherapy and monitoring.
During the first month of her treatment, she was admitted to hospital twice, once after an allergic reaction to a type of chemotherapy and a second time for neutropenic fever.
Having finished her chemotherapy at Christmas, Anna decided to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k which takes place on Sunday 13 May. She will take part to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust.
She is still being treated as if in remisson but has already begun running 5k distances to build up her stamina again.
Anna, 21, said: “They first told me there was a chance of it being cancer when I was at the ultrasound. It was almost worse hearing it then.
“I found all the waiting and uncertainty overwhelming. I didn’t know how bad it was going to be or what to expect. Area 61 had such a nice atmosphere and was such a big part of my treatment.
“There was always someone around to have a normal chat with and it’s nice to have other people who are going through it with you.
“The staff are different to normal doctors too; they’re there for you throughout your entire diagnosis and conversations with them aren’t always about your cancer but just about being a normal young person.
“The fatigue from the chemo isn’t really what I expected. Sometimes I’ll have the energy to manage a 5K run and not feel too bad and another day I’ll need to spend most of the day asleep, but I’m not finding it nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
“My aim is just to finish the event.”
Anna is encouraging others to take on the run this spring for Teenage Cancer Trust, to help ensure that no young person has to face cancer alone.
Anna will join 13,000 participants who will conquer a 10k challenge at the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k, no matter their pace or motivation.
Thousands of people will take to Bristol’s scenic streets, passing by awe-inspiring surroundings such as the Avon Gorge and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Anna added: “Teenage Cancer Trust was such a big part of my treatment and I can’t imagine what it would have been like otherwise.
“They made a pretty awful experience almost enjoyable at times. Even when you’re going in for chemo, you don’t dread going into hospital because you’re seeing people you like.
“The charity has been really important for me, both during my treatment and now that I am at the end of it too.”
Teenage Cancer Trust makes sure young people aged 13 to 24 diagnosed with cancer don’t face it alone. They help young people and their families deal with the many ways cancer affects your body, mind and life.
To support these services, join the Teenage Cancer Trust team at: www.teenagecancertrust.org/greatbristol10K using the discount code ‘LEGEND’ to receive 50% off registration fee.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Every runner has a story, it’s time to start yours. Enter the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k at: Greatrun.org/Bristol10k