It started with an itch that just wouldn't go away. Sometimes the irritation was so bad on her shoulder Evie Daniels would scratch it until it bled.

But as a healthy 24-year-old Evie was not prepared to think it could be something more serious. When a lump then developed she ignored it. She put night sweats and tiredness down to warm summer weather.

Eventually, Evie went to her doctor in January last year. Blood tests led to an ultrasound on her collarbone. A biopsy delivered the final devastating diagnosis. Two months later, on March 12, just days before the first national lockdown, she was told she had cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma.

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Sweet shop assistant Evie from Bridlington says she couldn't quite comprehend what was happening.

“The prospect of facing your own mortality in your twenties isn’t something you expect to happen."

Now after a year of gruelling cancer treatment, Evie is retelling her story to encourage others to check for cancer symptoms and get an earlier diagnosis. She is determined others won't face the emotional and physical pain she has endured.

Evie, three days before her diagnosis

Evie thought something 'wasn't quite right'

Evie says she believes she started experiencing symptoms of the cancer seven months earlier in May 2019 – but ignored the symptoms due to her busy schedule, despite “suffering with excruciatingly irritated skin that was itching all the time, resulting in me scratching myself until I was red raw and bleeding,” which she subsequently blamed on the hot weather at the time.

“I started showing symptoms with unbearably itchy skin, tiredness and the odd night sweat, but with it being summer, it was impossible not to blame all my symptoms on the weather,” Evie admits, before saying that it was only when her symptoms continued into the winter that she thought something “wasn’t quite right”.

She says in hindsight, that she is fairly certain that she came across a lump a few months later in November but “just tried ignoring it”.

Although, as Christmas approached, Evie decided that with the lump still very much present that it was best to book in with her GP, which eventually led to her shocking diagnosis.

Evie Daniels and her boyfriend Thomas Mowforth, three days before her cancer diagnosis

Blow for fertility treatment

On April 6 2020, Evie received her first dose of chemotherapy at The Queen’s Centre at Castle Hill Hospital despite fears that she could be left infertile as a result of the treatment.

Due to her long-term relationship of six years with “incredibly supportive” boyfriend Tom, initially, she was offered an attempt at embryo retrieval but sadly for the couple the centres that offered the service had closed as a result of coronavirus.

She said: “When we heard the fertility news, we were both really disappointed but I decided rather than dwelling on the prospect of trying to have a fertility treatment, and push back my chemotherapy even further, I’d just drive straight in.”

Evie went on to receive chemotherapy every second Monday from then onwards for six months.

Evie photographed mid-treatment

'I couldn’t cope with the hair loss'

She says that after just one month of the treatments she “began to crash and feel awful” while also being tasked to face each appointment alone due to Covid-19 guidelines rather than with boyfriend Tom or family to keep her company, which she described as “really awful”.

“It was around then that my hair began falling out, which was a bigger loss than I had prepared myself for,” Evie went on, talking about the long brown hair she once had.

“I couldn’t cope with having it come out in clumps anymore, so we made a fun situation out of it and I Facetimed some family and shaved my head.”

Speaking about her treatment, Evie said that the chemotherapy had a horrible effect on her, and not just physically - but on her mental health too. She says the treatment didn’t only change the way she sees herself but it affected her memory as a result - which she says is often referred to as “chemo brain”.

Evie shaved her head after she "couldn't cope with it falling out in clumps anymore"

“It just makes me very forgetful and unable to focus on anything for a long period of time, I think the mental effects and physical strains still have a big effect on me now,” she said.

'I’ve got everything crossed for good results'

As the anniversary of Evie’s first chemotherapy session approaches, she hopes to be given remission status soon.

“I am almost six months out of treatment. I had my first post-treatment PET scan in December 2020, but my oncologist wasn’t 100 per cent happy with giving me remission status as he saw a few bits and pieces in the scan that he wanted to keep an eye on which he thinks could be left over activity from the chemotherapy.

“So I’ve got another PET scan in March and two weeks after that I’ll find out my status on whether I’m in remission or if I need more treatment – I’ve got everything crossed for good results.”

Evie and boyfriend Tom on the final day of her treatment at Castle Hill Hospital

'Lymphoma does not care'

After her own experience, Evie has joined forces with friend and fellow lymphoma survivor Charlotte Cox who has launched a charity aimed at spreading awareness on the cancer, which is diagnosed every 27 minutes in the UK and is the most common cancer in teenagers and young people.

Evie says that after ignoring her symptoms for so long she wants to spread awareness of the importance of being familiar with potential cancer indications and so has joined Lymphoma Out Loud's "Up Your's Lymphoma" campaign.

She said: “Lymphoma does not care about your age, your gender or your plans for in life. It doesn’t care about anything, it can affect anybody.

“Don’t try and ignore it in the hopes that it will go away. Having experienced this first hand with numerous symptoms for months and ignoring them until they became unbearable, I don’t want anyone else to go through the months of uncertainty and anxiety.

“Please get to know your body, if something doesn’t feel right, it very well could be because your body is telling you to listen.

“Lymphoma has taken more time and opportunities from me than I’d care to mention. So for the sake of loving yourself, please look after yourself.”

Lymphoma Out Loud

Charlotte, who started the campaign titled “Lymphoma Out Loud”, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma aged 26 and feels as though her pleas that something was growing inside of her were ignored despite various trips to her GP and A&E where she was told that she was “too young for anything serious to be wrong.”

It wasn't until Charlotte’s sister dragged her to her own local GP, where she was referred for further tests, that it was confirmed that she had advanced and progressive lymphoma.

Some of the symptoms that Lymphoma Out Loud wants young people to be made aware of

The “something growing” was a 15cm tumour in her abdomen that was compressing her spine, a tumour on her neck and a further tumour behind her heart which had also spread to her bone marrow.

The heartbroken 26-year-old discovered that she’d been living with the cancer for the past two years, now spreading so far that it was incurable.

In a desire for change, Charlotte now encourages and empowers others to understand their body, educate on the signs and symptoms and instil confidence in young people to approach their GP if they suspect something doesn't feel right by way of her Lymphoma Out Loud charity.

If you would like to support the charity, you can donate by clicking here.