A YOUNG Skipton woman who until February this year was living the dream and teaching English in the Galapagos islands, saw her world crumble when she became ill and later learned she had an aggressive cancer.

Mollie Mulheron has written a guide for fellow sufferers, written from a young person's perspective and 'filled with hints and tips nurses might not think to tell you'.

Mollie, 25, had moved out to the Galapagos after finishing her PGCE in teaching languages.

She said: "I made the terrifying decision to leave the stability, relationship, house and life I’d build in the UK and start all over again. I can single handedly say it was the best thing I have ever done and I am beyond proud of myself for having the courage to do it.

"My only regret would be not coming home earlier but when doctors are telling you are fine, you trust them. Whilst I was out there, I had a few bad health symptoms, but doctors brushed it off. I came home to visit family and within 12 hours of getting off the plane collapsed. I was then diagnosed with stage four cancer - (Diffuse large B Cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma). I had a 15cm by 6cm mango-sized tumour engulfing my heart and lung. I went from living my best life on an island paradise to a living nightmare spending 125 days in hospital since February.

"I screamed and cried about how I had so much left to do, I wanted babies and marriage and I wasn’t even nearly done yet with this world, I hadn’t even begun. But yeah, I thought that was it for me, when you’re told you have a tumour the size of a melon engulfing your heart, that to me was pretty much a certain death sentence.

"It might seem like I’ve been strong on the outside, but on the inside, I’ve felt like a terrified little girl. I’ve just become so independent that I am good at putting on a brave face and dealing with stuff myself. This past six months have been utterly horrific, and I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on my worst enemy.

"Aside from the physical part of cancer, the mental aspect is just as, if not more, challenging. The hardest part, though, is when you don’t recognise yourself anymore. Some people would say oh you can reinvent yourself and start again, I didn’t want to, I liked the old me. It had taken me 24 years to build her up to where I wanted her. I’d spent years getting my hair perfect, it was part of my identity. I still cry everyday about this. Honestly looking at myself in a mirror makes me feel sick with sadness still because it’s not myself looking back at me.

"Lying in a hospital bed with no purpose was almost harder mentally than the treatment itself. Therefore, I decided something good must come out of this hell. So, I decided to write a guide for young people going through cancer. It has also been checked over by a nurse for the medical accuracy.

"My plan is to distribute these books throughout the country on teenage and young adult cancer wards free of charge for anyone that needs it. I have also made it available on Amazon. If I can help just one person through my guide, then getting cancer at such a young age, doesn't feel all for nothing.

"I always say everything happens for a reason and I would like to think my reason for getting this disease was to help others. I also started an Instragram blog (mollie.mulheron) and youtube channel called #notdramatic and have been visiting sixth forms around the area delivering awareness talks. Since my campaign I have had people messaging me saying because of me, they went to get their symptoms checked. If I can save one life from this, then it was all worth it. The biggest thing I've learnt out of this is to never take anything for granted.

As horrific as this time has been for me, I honestly feel lucky. I’ve been there when people around me have been told there are no more treatments left for them and I have helped a 40-year-old woman plan her own funeral with her 16-year-old daughter. My cancer is one of the most aggressive out of there and can go from not existing to killing you in a month which it nearly did me, however the more aggressive are often the more treatable. How lucky is that?

In terms of my treatment, I had my final scan in August. It showed a tiny bit of activity however my doctors think this is inflammation from having such an intense chemo regime. I have another scan the end of October to check if the activity has gone so fingers crossed.

I hope by sharing my story I may encourage others going through something similar to know that they are not alone and for others to inspire them to live everyday to the fullest, as tomorrow is never promised.

Anyone who would like a free copy of Mollie's guide, or know someone who might, contact her via email: molliemulheron@outlook.com