Teenage Cancer Trust Stories: Nimra

Teenage Cancer Trust Stories: Nimra

Nimra shared her story of being treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit, Dr.PAWPAW's official charity partner. Here she talks about how cancer affected her mental health, both during and after treatment.

Nimra (25), from London, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January 2018 at 20 years old. She had two thyroidectomies at St Anthony’s Hospital in London and a radioiodine ablation at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Nimra said" "When you finish cancer a lot of people assume that everything is OK and that things will get back to normal, and I remember someone said that I had the ‘good cancer’ (if there even is such a thing!) because it was easy to treat – this made me feel like I should not have been struggling. But I was.

"Before my diagnosis, I was in middle of my first year of architecture degree. Post-surgery, I remember thinking that I just wanted to progress at university with my friends and didn’t want to be left behind. I was also worried I was going to have to postpone my career.

“Travelling to and from university became very difficult due to my anxiety. I had a constant fear that I was going to faint so I would travel by taxi and friends would meet me when I arrived. I did not want to go anywhere on my own, so I would take a family member with me. I stopped going out of the house alone for anything other than essential trips. Anxiety got so scary for me that I did not leave my house for over six months.

“I started to realise I still needed help two years after my cancer diagnosis – I realised I wanted to live my life like how I did before cancer – to go to concerts and be in crowds or to go places on my own without getting so anxious.

"I truly feel like myself after such a long time. 

"I could have dropped out of university, but it has all worked out for me. I graduated with a BA in Architecture (Part 1, which is a three years course) during the year of 2020. After graduating, I went onto working full-time in an architecture practice for almost two years. I am now pursuing my Master’s in Architecture (Part 2, which is a two years course), whilst also working full-time in the same architecture practice for the summer holidays, until I return to university to complete my final year of Master’s. I never thought I’d be here, doing good mentally and physically but I am.

"If I could go back, I’d tell myself to go slow, be gentle and to not rush recovery. Recovery is not linear, and it doesn’t look the same for everyone. I remember I wanted to forget that I ever had cancer but that was a mistake. 

"Denying the fact that it ever happened was silly of me because even though it took lots of away from me, it also made me realise my own strength and made me the person that I am now. For me, life after cancer was harder than the treatment itself, and I made it harder for myself by trying to rush back into normal life, and denying it ever happened. 

"I would tell others to take it slow and be gentle with themselves. It is okay if yesterday was better than today, because recovery is never linear. Getting diagnosed with cancer is a very confusing and isolation journey, but it is a challenge that will force you to learn about your own strength and ultimately will make you release that you are stronger than you think. 

"Life after cancer is tough, and at times harder than the treatment itself, but by reaching out and seeking for help it will aid the process and make it easier. Everyone’s path is different, and sometimes processing it will take place much later on in your journey, like it did for me. Just keeping going because there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see it now, keep going until you do. 

"And most importantly - little progress; is still progress."

To support the Teenage Cancer Trust, click here.

Back to blog
1 of 3