Original article from Kent Live
A 20-year-old from Erith has opened up about her experience of living through the pandemic after surviving leukaemia, a cancer that damages your body's blood and immune response.
Diagnosed with the illness aged just two, Lucy Long relapsed aged seven, having to undergo a bone marrow transplant as a young child and receiving treatment for much of her childhood.
Lucy has received extensive support from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer trust during the pandemic, but her experience puts a spotlight on the experience of young people forced to shield from COVID-19 for their own safety.
Lucy – like many people living after battling a serious illness – was forced to take much tighter precautions during the pandemic, being isolated from friends in the middle of her time as a university student.
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Speaking on the experience, she said: "I was shielding during lockdown, so I felt really lonely.
"I couldn't relate to anybody and none of my friends were in the same position as me.
“Looking back at my treatment in isolation, this all brought back real memories of being stuck in the house.
"I found it very scary and felt an increase in stress and anxiety.
"Uni was all online and it was the uncertainty – no-one knew what was happening or what to expect."
A study carried out by the UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project found that people with leukaemia had the largest increase in risk of serious illness and death for blood cancer patients, and were more at risk than other cancer patients.
For Lucy though, the emphasis has been on life after defeating her cancer, an expressed goal of the charity that supported her before and during the pandemic, and now into this later stage.
Lucy adds: “In a positive way, cancer has made me who I am.
"I’m more optimistic and very grateful for what I have in my life.
"Sometimes, because of my treatment I get more tired, or my joints hurt a bit more, I take it all with a pinch of salt and I'm just thankful I'm here today and having the opportunities I'm getting in life."
The Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust focuses on inspiring young people between the age of 8 and 24 to 'believe in a brighter future living through and beyond cancer.'
It was founded by the record-breaking round-the-world yachtswoman of the same name in 2003.
A spokesperson for the trust said: "For many young people, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible.
"So, when treatment ends, the Trust’s work begins.
"The isolation, loneliness and anxiety experienced by young people with cancer has been massively amplified by the COVID and lockdown.
"That is why they need the Trust more than ever right now."
"The young people are inspired to believe in a brighter future as they feel valued, accepted, optimistic and independent.
"They can start to re-establish their place in the world by getting back into education or employment and reconnecting with their friends and families."
Lucy spent last week with the Trust at Bradwell Essex Outdoors, along with 7 other young people from across the UK who had also suffered from cancer in their youth.
By connecting young people with others who have had similar experiences with such an isolating and debilitating illness, the charity aims to help boost their, "sense of purpose and self-worth, and begin to realise what they are capable of again."