While the debilitating effects of cancer treatment are well documented, patients also struggle with mental health issues.
Taylor Hetherington started chemotherapy before she finished Grade 10.
Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 15, Taylor found the stresses of adolescence — from body image to social interaction — were compounded exponentially by her illness.
When she returned to her Uxbridge high school without hair after chemo, Taylor found no one, not even her friends, would speak to her.
“I didn’t know if it was because they were embarrassed or they didn’t know how to act,” Taylor said. “My teachers were saying people were actually scared of me and thought I was contagious ... It made my confidence level go way down.”
She started experiencing recurring breakdowns. Eventually she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, was prescribed medication and started seeing a therapist.
Taylor, now 16, has been cancer-free since September 2016, but the mental and emotional anguish remains.
“I still don’t have hair. I wear a wig,” she said. “I still always compare myself to other girls. I wish I looked like them. I just beat myself up basically.”
Cancer’s physical toll is well documented.
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