Marnie Wills, a vibrant and healthy 19-year-old from Melbourne, had her world turned upside down when she received a devastating diagnosis in April 2020. Despite being dedicated to her dance training and feeling at the peak of her health, Marnie’s life took an unexpected turn as she was diagnosed with stage-three cancer.
The symptoms, initially brushed off as minor issues, turned out to be indicators of a more serious problem. Itchy skin and night sweats were the subtle signs of nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NSHL), the most common form of the disease. Fortunately, a routine blood test required for her university placement led to her life-saving diagnosis.
Marnie’s cancer was treatable, but at stage three, it posed a serious threat. Swift action was necessary to prevent further complications. Surprisingly, Marnie did not experience any pain despite the tumors’ presence in her chest and abdomen. As a young person surrounded by much older patients in the chemo ward, she faced the challenges of treatment with unwavering determination.
Throughout her nine months of treatment, Marnie endured the side effects with grace and strength. She lost her hair, suffered shingles from an infection, and battled severe mouth ulcers that made drinking water painful. Despite the difficulties, the treatment successfully reduced the tumors, leaving only one remaining.
Amidst the hardship, Marnie found her inner resilience and faced the ordeal with a positive mindset. However, she couldn’t help but feel the impact of her illness on her family and friends. As her peers continued with their lives, Marnie spent months in the hospital, unable to have visitors due to Covid restrictions.
The experience made her appreciate life in new ways, and she decided to pursue a different career path, not returning to her nursing studies. With annual check-ups to monitor her health, Marnie continues to cherish every moment, grateful for the strength she discovered within herself during her battle with cancer.