Eleri Reece-Jones

I was diagnosed with cancer in 2021. Last year, the only Christmas gift I wanted was my health. This year, I’m looking forward to Christmas time surrounded by my family.

I’d known that my body wasn’t right, so when I was told I had stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma, I felt heard instead of scared. But then everything hit me at once and I couldn’t process it – my life was about to change, I’d lose my hair and it would affect my fertility too, it wasn’t just the cancer, it was everything that went with it. It was difficult being so young too, attending appointments at my local hospital, I felt many pitiful glances coming my way. Then, I was given the option to undergo treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s dedicated Teenage & Young Adult Unit, and it was a huge relief!

My cancer didn’t respond to chemotherapy so I was admitted as an inpatient and eventually started immunotherapy treatment before progressing to receive a stem cell transplant. I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone at Clatterbridge for picking me up at my lowest, looking after me when I couldn’t look after myself and being my friend – even decorating my room on my birthday. The team at Clatterbridge were a light of hope, giving me encouragement through my hardest times.

I was amazed to hear that the fantastic Teenage & Young Adult Unit and the transplant suites at Clatterbridge have been created to such a high standard, thanks to your generous donations.

The Charity also supports activities for younger patients at Clatterbridge, encouraging those on the Teenage & Young Adult unit to share experiences with others who are living through a similar situation at the same time in our lives, which is incredible. It’s great to feel like I don’t need to put on a brave face, something I really felt last Christmas.

While it’s supposed to be the happiest time of year, it can be a huge struggle too, trying to stay on top form at such a special time was hard for me. I didn’t know what my future held, or even if I’d have another Christmas. I felt self conscious that my body had changed and all I felt I had to talk about was my cancer, it had become my life.

This year will be very different, as I can finally celebrate properly with my family around me and I have Clatterbridge to thank for that. I really do believe it is a special place and while they looked after me as a patient, I was always first and foremost an individual. The difference this made to me, not only physically, but mentally, was huge.

That’s why I’m supporting this year’s Fairy Appeal. To help Clatterbridge Cancer Charity to do even more for the people who need this remarkable place. Whether it’s research into immunotherapy treatments like I had, down to arts activity packs for a patient or a day out for young adults, your donations can change – or even save – a life like mine.

To give a gift this Christmas, take part in the Fairy Appeal by clicking the button above.

However you’re spending the holidays this year, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas x

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