“If I didn’t have Lis [a Redkite social worker] I would be staying home now, not doing anything. I wouldn’t know where to start my life again, or even have that motivation to be excited to try.”
Teah is 17 and in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. She is starting her life all over again. From her friendships to the future she had imagined for herself, her cancer diagnosis has disrupted everything.
It started when I was walking to school. I was getting a sore stomach and I had to go to the toilet a lot. It was really painful. Then I found this lump on my neck. I thought that it would go away but it just got bigger and bigger, and every time I had a shower I got really dizzy. I was tired and my body ached.
I told mum and we went to so many doctors, but they weren’t finding anything. I finally went to another doctor and we were walking to school when mum got the worst phone call ever.
He had found something in my blood.
I didn’t end up going to school.
I had leukaemia.
Dealing with diagnosis
I felt like everything wasn’t real. I felt like I was floating in my own little universe. I was in shock. When I kind of woke up I realised I didn’t know what cancer was. I’d seen it on TV and saw you go bald, but I thought I would have a little injection of medicine and then go home.
Mum wanted to get me to the hospital as soon as possible. So, we took a bus and then we had to take another bus, and then we took a train. Oh, my goodness, it was so long and we didn’t think we had to stay there for a long time. So, we just had the clothes we were wearing.
Support from Redkite
Redkite was so nice to give us a red bag full of toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner. It was everything we needed for a stay in hospital. The social worker also told us about other Redkite services and they helped us with so much.
Redkite gave us Coles vouchers which were great because the steroids left me starving all the time and mum was able to buy the food that I needed. Redkite also helped us with our electricity bill and that was really good because mum didn’t have much money because of the transport and stuff. We live far from the city, far from the hospital.
In the end, I spent two years away from home undergoing treatment and by that point I needed counselling. Lis from Redkite became my counsellor and social worker, and she helped me so much. I told her what I was having problems with and she helped me find solutions. I felt better talking to someone like Lis. She helped me with my banking. She told me about Centrelink and helped me with financial stuff.
I was a bit nervous at first because I’m not really a good talker. I also have OCD, so I told her I was always forgetting what I had to do and she helped me find all these ways to cope.
Lis helped me get my life together because when I returned home my friends were not really there anymore.
I don’t have many friends anymore.
They grew up.
Dreams for the future
Cancer has knocked me in a completely different direction!
One day, I would love to get my driver’s licence and have the freedom to go anywhere. I would love to get a job. I want to be a phlebotomist [responsible for collecting biological samples from patients]. I’ve got my blood test done so many times, I would ace being a phlebotomist!
It’s really good that Lis and I met up. She understood what I was saying and that made me feel really comfortable. If I didn’t have Lis, I would be staying home now, not doing anything. I wouldn’t know where to start my life again, or even have that motivation to be excited to try.”
The support Redkite provides to young people is designed to go at their pace and meet their specific needs, including how they prefer to connect.
If you need support, call Redkite on 1300 105 461 now or request a callback.
Would you like to share your story? Redkite celebrates the diversity of personal experiences and stories. The stories shared on our website include opinions that may not necessarily represent Redkite’s views.