Rachel, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, by Analia Paino

Rachel Scar Stories Photograph by Analia Paino

Being told that I had cancer was the last thing I expected when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma half-way through Year 12. It was 2015 and the doctors found a tumour the size of a tennis ball underneath my sternum. 

During the end of my last chemo cycle I got a virus that ended up causing septicaemia and my kidneys started shutting down. I had to be on fluids 24/7 for over a week! I got so puffy in the upper body I could hardly move. I didn't eat for over two weeks, but yet I gained 7kgs from the water retention in my body. I was released from hospital after that stint the night before my formal, which I attended in a wheelchair. I had to just wear something out of my cupboard, as the formal dress I bought only a few weeks before did not fit me any more because of my weight gain.

When cancer struck my world, as it has so many others, I really didn't know what to do. I was suddenly overwhelmed by medical language and terms that I still don't know how to pronounce. But somehow, with the loving support of my family, I found a way to get through it. Even in my worst times during chemotherapy and radiotherapy I always knew that this was hopefully only a short term regime. Now, having been through and finished treatment, there is a normal life ahead. A life without daily visits or long term stays at the hospital.

My Scar Stories portrait symbolises the mental strength I had during my treatment. I believe that I mostly maintained a positive outlook throughout my cancer journey. Although this being easier said than done, it allowed me to look ahead to the future that I will have and treasure.