Meet Mila

Mila was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was 19 whilst at university. Mila writes about how she navigated her diagnosis, and what it is like being a young person with cancer. "It is a misunderstood and isolating experience."

Hello, my name is Mila.

I am 21 years old and in the second year of my law degree. In September 2022, when I was 19 years old, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


Since then, I have undergone four rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and have been dealing with the short and long-term side effects of this. ANer having my eggs frozen, I was put on infusions which would last all day, three days in a row, in a hospital two hours from my home.


The side effects of this treatment severely disrupted my life. Practically, I went from packing for my second year of university to managing symptoms with my medical team. I had to pause my studies as I was not well enough to engage. I was unable to work. I felt as if I’d stepped into another world – one of uncertainty, danger and vulnerability. It was hard seeing my friends continuing with their lives while it felt like mine was on hold.


Alongside the physical side effects, I struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis emotionally as I couldn’t think of myself as ‘ill’.


Being diagnosed with cancer as a young person feels like being out of sync with your generation. It is a misunderstood and isolating experience. It feels like being in another world – one that most people perhaps do not see.


Before I was diagnosed, I enjoyed hiking and walking in nature. This was something I missed immensely during my treatment. I used to look at the wall stickers on TYA floor and imagine myself back outside enjoying what I love.


I experienced a lot of muscle loss due to a combination of the medications I was on and the side effects of chemo, making it harder for me to exercise. Registering with the Ella Dawson Foundation was a significant turning point in terms of how I viewed my strength and emotional resilience since diagnosis.


I have been doing regular yoga sessions on Zoom with Katy, which have helped me incorporate exercise into my life, gradually build up my strength as well as find space for calm mindful moments in my day. The beautiful ‘Life Notes’ journal I use helps me to notice what I am thinking and feeling and get some clarity.


Their support has been an invaluable resource for me on my journey of returning to m studies and the challenges this brings.


Feeling so listened to and understood helps me feel connected and confident that there are people who know the challenges of having cancer as a young person. This empowers me to see myself as more than my diagnosis.