8:02am Monday 26th August 2013
A 20-YEAR-OLD woman given the all clear from cancer is urging young people to check out possible warning signs of the disease.
Angharad West, from Abergavenny, found a lump in her underarm last September and at first, doctors could not work out what was causing her to feel peculiar.
She said: "I had really itchy legs and feet, I couldn't stop myself scratching. It can be one of the symptoms, but it's a weird one.
"It did shock me when I was told it was cancer, I didn't think it was that. The worst bit was not knowing if it could be treated. By the time I was diagnosed in January it had gone to a few different places."
Cancerous lymph nodes were found in the former King Henry V111 School's chest, underarm and neck.
She was told she would have to undergo chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) found in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body.
The affected lymphocytes lose their infection-fighting properties, making the patient more vulnerable to infection.
Due to this, Angharad's friends and family with illnesses had to stay away, while certain foods like takeaways and pepper were ruled out.
Supported throughout by parents Lisa, 48 and Jamie, 49, Angharad underwent six gruelling months of chemotherapy.
Before being diagnosed, she was studying a hairdressing apprenticeship at Head Room.
Customers and colleagues sent Angharad flowers and book vouchers.
She said: "My biggest worry was losing my hair because of my job."
The chemotherapy ended on July 4 and on August 14, she was given the news she had been hoping for.
However, she does believe waiting a month to be told was unacceptable.
"It was just a relief in the end," she said, "I've got my next check up in November."
Since being given the all clear, Angharad has enjoyed a trip to Oakwood with friends and is planning holidays to Newquay and Crete.
That's because her hospital visits meant she missed her yearly trip to Magaluf, where she hopes to go again soon.
"I would like to go travelling or work a season abroad. I'm taking every week as it comes, just having fun and living life. Having cancer has really made me put things into perspective," she said
"I'd encourage people with unusual symptoms to go and get checked out."
Angharad has also enjoyed eating a fuller diet, including takeaways, although she admits the first one in so long did not live up to expectations.
Next month, Angharad will help her dad and friends fundraise hopefully £5,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust by doing a walk on the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal.
The Trust is the only charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for the six young people between the ages of 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day.
Its Cardiff unit treats young people in a friendly and more informal setting, with comforts such as computer and chill out areas.
There is two distances to choose from on September 20, eight miles or 13 miles.
For more information, call Jamie West on 01633 873904.
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