Young survivor helps others doing it tough

Alexia Yiangoulli was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at 13, and has now been in remission for nine years. (Supplied)

Ewen McRae

By Ewen McRae

It has been nine years since Alexia Yiangoulli received the news that would turn her adolescence upside down.

At just 13, the Frasers Rise girl was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, going through months of treatments while juggling school and the at times awkward side effects of her battle.

Now 22, Ms Yiangoulli said it was, at times, a painful journey.

“I was at my cousin’s place and they kept looking at my neck and saying there was a lump there,” Ms Yiangoulli said.

“At first the doctors just said it was a viral infection, but Mum wasn’t happy with that so we got it checked again. Pretty soon I was in the Royal Children’s getting a biopsy and we found out it was Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“I was lucky because they caught it early, but they couldn’t remove about 50 per cent of it because it was wrapped around my neck … we started chemo straight away.”

What followed was five months of chemotherapy and a month of radiotherapy, a huge strain for anyone, let alone someone so young.

“At the time I had never really heard about cancer,” she said.

“No one in my family had it, no one I knew had it, I just remember the only thing I was worried about was going bald.

“It definitely took a toll on me physically and emotionally, especially at that age. The younger kids at school would ask me about my hair or why I was wearing a beanie or a wig, so it was tough to be a young girl and going through that.

“I think people understand it more now, and I don’t think they meant any harm back then, but it was tough when all you want to think about at that age is going to parties or meeting boys and all that normal stuff”

Through it all, Ms Yiangoulli received support from the Cancer Council, as well as her school, which organised fundraisers and World’s Greatest Shave events to show solidarity with her fight.

Now in remission for nine years, Ms Yiangoulli said she is forever grateful for the support she received.

“I’m far more aware of it all now, because my chances of cancer are obviously increased,” she said.

“I did some volunteering for the Cancer Council over the years, and help educate people a bit, because I knew nothing before I went through it personally.

“Sadly I think more people are getting cancer these days, but also the education is so much better now, so with things like Daffodil Day it’s great to see people wearing the pin or buying the teddy bears to show support for people who are doing it tough.”

Daffodil Day is on Friday, August 29.