From life changing shock to new growth
Cancer came knocking on Fiona's door when she was just 18 and transitioning from high school to university. Like most people, it came as a shock and was certainly not welcomed.
Fiona was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Fiona had no idea it even existed, let alone how she was going to beat it.
"To be honest, I was naïve then. I had only ever associated cancer with the elderly and to be diagnosed myself came as a bit of shock. I immediately wanted to become informed, I wanted to know what to expect, because it gave me the sense that I could gain back control of a situation where you had very little. Like most people I turned to the internet."
This is when Fiona first contacted Canteen.
Canteen helped Fiona to keep moving forward
Fiona reached out to Canteen when she was halfway through her treatment and feeling extremely isolated. There was no one close to her age in the adult oncology unit where she received treatment. Fiona would sit there, holding back tears because she thought she had to be brave.
"Canteen was there for me when cancer crashed into my world. Not only did the psychosocial support help me gain back control and independence (which was something I had lost since my diagnosis), but the peer support was incredibly valuable."
"I needed to know that as a young person, there was someone willing to help support me through my toughest time. Someone to tell me that I wasn’t alone in this experience. Canteen was and still is that someone, not just for me but for so many young people like me."
Fiona is now part of the South Queensland Local Leadership Group and more recently, the National Representative for Queensland, where she advocates for Canteen and helps contribute to the support services provided by Canteen's Brisbane office.
New Growth bandanna
Fiona experienced National Bandanna Day when she was in primary school and now she is National Bandanna Day’s youth ambassador. Fiona has been able to design her own bandanna called ‘New Growth’ to represent her cancer journey and the positive impact of Canteen. The floral elements were hand drawn by Fiona and symbolise the growth she’s had since her cancer diagnosis and her hope for a flourishing future.
"My bandanna design, ‘New Growth’ represents the resilience of a young adult cancer survivor. There is always new growth after devastating environmental events. I feel this reflects what happened to me, after my own devastating life event. I’ve had new growth after finishing treatment and gaining Canteen’s support."
Fiona's bandanna is available to purchase here