Edinburgh mum Tianna Campbell reflects on cancer diagnosis in first Covid-19 lockdown when she was just 23
As a young single mum, being plunged into lockdown in March 2020 with two young sons was a huge challenge for Tianna Campbell.
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But a shock cancer diagnosis which came just days later left her having to juggle parenthood, treatment and shielding from a virus which was quickly taking over the world.
The then 23-year-old was diagnosed with a rare form of Lymphoma on April 1 - less than a week after the country was ordered to stay at home - after she went to the doctor with breathing difficulties.
And nothing could have prepared her for the shock when scans revealed a 12cm tumour behind her breastbone.
The young mum immediately had to undergo intense chemotherapy and also had to endure 15 rounds of radiotherapy at Edinburgh General Hospital - treatment which left her exhausted and in pain.
“As I’m a single mum and my dad lives in Spain and my sister works a lot, I had to find ways to cope alone and keep my children entertained, whilst trying to look after and shield myself from the pandemic,” said Tianna, who is now 24.
“I would often drive over to my grandma’s house where there was a path to a beach from her back garden and I would sit and watch my sons play with their grandparents, whilst giving me time to close my eyes and rest.
“On some days I just wanted to sleep all day and not have to worry about anyone else, but motherhood doesn’t allow for that to happen, I had to keep going for the sake of my children.”
Throughout Tianna’s gruelling treatment, her young sons were constantly on her mind and she worried that they would become scared or distant when she started losing her hair.
But the pair were supportive and they were the ones who inspired Tianna to keep going through the difficult days and focus on getting back to health.
She said: “My sons have helped me through cancer. Even though they are still young, they are my purpose in life.
“If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have fought cancer as hard as I did.”
She added: “It will always be at the back of my mind that I could relapse, or the cancer could come back in years to come but I tell myself to live each day as it comes and make many memories with my children, friends and family.”
During her treatment, Tianna was staying on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit, where she was able to get to know and talk to people of her own age who were also facing cancer.
The friendships made in the ward are now so valuable to Tianna that she took on a sponsored skydive to help raise vital funds for the charity.
The £900 she was able to raise will go towards the charity’s specialised hospital units - like the one Tianna stayed in - and activities for young people to enjoy while undergoing cancer treatment.
It will also help the charity to provide specialised care and support from nurses and youth support co-ordinators throughout young people’s cancer treatment.
“The skydive for Teenage Cancer Trust was amazing, my sons were at the bottom cheering me on which was so heart-warming,” said Tianna.
“It was also a great opportunity to give back to the charity that helped me so much through everything I went through.”