Isabella, Christie patient

Isabella was in sixth form studying for her A-levels when she started feeling unwell. She had regular headaches, nausea, dizziness and blurred vision so her parents took her to A&E in October 2019.

Unfortunately, Isabella was diagnosed with a chordoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the bones of the base of the skull and spine. Her doctor referred her to Queen Square Hospital in London for an operation to remove the tumour.

After recovering from the operation, Isabella was referred to the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie for treatment. This meant they had to travel up from London to stay in Manchester for 8 weeks.

Just as Isabella, her mum Silvia, her dad and her brother were due to travel up to Manchester, the COVID-19 lockdown came into force. The family could still travel as it was for Isabella’s medical treatment and they stayed in the Stay City aparthotel accommodation provided by the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie.

Silvia was initially worried about the risk of coronavirus to Isabella, as her cancer treatment meant her immune system wasn’t working properly. However, her mind was put at ease when she saw the measures The Christie was taking to keep patients like Isabella safe.

While she was at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie, Isabella had support from the Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinator, Angie. She found Angie’s support really helpful and Silvia really appreciated that she engaged with the parents as well as the patients.

As Isabella’s treatment continued, she became nauseous and tired. This meant she couldn’t do activities that she was able to do before. However, she said Angie helped set up some online workshops for her and these helped pass the time during lockdown.

Isabella’s proton beam therapy is now finished, meaning she can now focus on recovering and continuing with her studies. She said the thing that helped her most through the whole experience was the support from her mum and keeping a positive attitude throughout treatment.

Although lockdown wasn’t ideal, I was happy to have everyone with me helping me through it. After the second week of therapy the symptoms that the doctors at The Christie had mentioned appeared, I started to feel constantly sick and not wanting to eat anything.

Isabella, Christie patient
“They put in coronavirus safety measures for each patient. All the nurses and doctors were really friendly and the activity room was amazing.
“Angie was there and she helped me get involved in things like painting, which I enjoyed as it allowed you to get distracted and not have to worry constantly about how bad you feel or how tired you are. It helped me focus on not feeling sick.”

- Isabella, Christie patient