Moving short film about 24-year-old from Chorley who was diagnosed with cancer and relapsed twice

A moving film telling the story of 24-year-old Lakita Neille, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, has been released by Teenage Cancer Trust.

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A moving film telling the story of 24-year-old Lakita Neille, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, has been released by Teenage Cancer Trust.

Lakita, from Chorley, Lancashire, is being supported by the charity after being diagnosed with cancer and relapsing twice.

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The film will be shown every night during the charity’s series of gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in London from 18-24 March.

Lakita with her boyfriend Ollie on her 20th birthdayLakita with her boyfriend Ollie on her 20th birthday
Lakita with her boyfriend Ollie on her 20th birthday

It is an extra special year as the gigs will also be celebrating the work of its founder and curator, rock legend Roger Daltrey, as he bows out as the driving force of these concerts. There will be performances from acts including: The Who, Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds, Young Fathers and The Chemical Brothers, and comedians such as Kevin Bridges.

On Tuesday (19 March) Lakita, will be on stage in front of thousands of people to introduce the film.

Lakita was 20 when she first diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma in July 2019.

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She said: “In the January, I was on my first teaching placement. I was going to the gym each day and I’d lost weight. I thought I was healthier than ever but I was constantly shattered. I put it down to being busy and didn’t think anything of it.

Lakita receiving her first chemotherapyLakita receiving her first chemotherapy
Lakita receiving her first chemotherapy

“The following month I felt a lump on my neck. I was really worried. I got an emergency appointment the next day and the doctor told me it was a swollen gland. But I was struggling to get up for lectures and the lump in my neck was getting bigger.

“I went to a walk-in clinic in the April and I was referred to a suspected cancer clinic. The bloods showed I was slightly anaemic, so I convinced myself that’s all it was. After many tests and procedures, I was eventually diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the July and I was transferred to The Christie NHS Foundation Trust. I had chemotherapy which got me into remission. I lived my life for two to three years without even thinking about cancer as much, and I felt grateful.

“When I relapsed, it knocked me for six. It was October 2022 and by now I’d moved in with my partner Ollie. We'd had about a year of living together and life was good. I remember waking up and thinking ‘I've got everything exactly where I want it

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“But then I found another lump on my neck. When I went for my scan results, I could just tell that the vibe was off. I remember my doctor looking at the scan and telling me that I had relapsed, and that shattered my world.

Lakita before being diagnosedLakita before being diagnosed
Lakita before being diagnosed

“During my treatment, there were days where all I’d want to do is go to bed and close my eyes and hope that I would feel better when I woke up. I also thought, if it's come back this time, is that going to keep happening? How long will I be around for? That’s a horrible thought to have at 23 years old.

“I had more chemotherapy which got me back into remission around Christmas time, but by February 2023, it had come back again. I had chemotherapy to get me back into remission, and I had a stem cell transplant in June 2023. I was just wishing the days away while I was in hospital because I felt so low."

Lakita was supported by Teenage Cancer Trust - the only UK charity dedicated to providing specialised nursing care and support for young people aged 13-24 with cancer, so they don't have to face cancer alone. The charity does this by funding expert nurses, youth workers, and hospital units.

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Lakita said: “The Teenage Cancer Trust staff at The Christie completely transformed my experience of cancer. I was first diagnosed at a hospital that didn't have Teenage Cancer Trust staff, and I was terrified.

Lakita during treatmentLakita during treatment
Lakita during treatment

“I then went to The Christie, and I met the Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator Steve, and the Lead Nurse Hanna. I remember going in with all my worries, and Hanna just broke it down for me in a way that I fully understood. My Clinical Nurse Specialist, Lyndsey, became very important to me too. She would come and visit me at my house, and I could always rely on her to make me feel a lot better whenever I was feeling down. When I relapsed, it felt like I was faced with this huge mountain.

“But with Teenage Cancer Trust, it almost felt like I'd put my arm around someone, and I was being dragged up this mountain with them. And whatever happened, we were going to get up there and it wouldn't be on my own. It would be together. My partner Ollie has been my rock through cancer treatment. And having him supported by Teenage Cancer Trust as well took a huge pressure off.

“The biggest thing cancer has taught me is that anything can happen to anybody, which kind of makes life a little bit scarier, but also makes you appreciate every single moment you have. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I'm proud of how quickly and smoothly I've been able to get back into teaching after everything I've been through.”

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Hanna Simpson, Head Nurse for Teenagers and Young Adults at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, has supported Lakita throughout her treatment.

She said: “I remember Lakita coming in on her first day with big, frightened eyes – she was terrified. But I’ve watched her grow. She’s faced every single hurdle with a strength she didn’t even know she had.

“She has blossomed, and I think the support she’s had has allowed Lakita to do her journey of cancer in her way, and nobody else’s.”

This week, Lakita, alongside other young people helped by Teenage Cancer Trust, will take part in its Ultimate Backstage Experience at the Royal Albert Hall.

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Sponsored by long-term charity partner Domino’s pizza, those taking part will watch a show from the week, stay in a hotel, and explore the city the next day. They’ll also get a behind the scenes tour of the Royal Albert Hall and take part in a workshop courtesy of the Hall’s education team.

Over the years, the Royal Albert Hall gigs have generated over £32 million from ticket sales alone. That money is enough to pay for over a million hours of specialist care from Teenage Cancer Trust nurses, or 13 Teenage Cancer Trust hospital units.

Speaking about the film being shown, Lakita said: "I'm looking forward to seeing the film on a big screen at the Royal Albert Hall. I hope that it raises awareness of cancer in young people and that it encourages people to donate to Teenage Cancer Trust.

"Having the support of Teenage Cancer Trust completely transformed my experience of having cancer. It meant that I had someone there when I needed to talk to and someone I could laugh with when I was having treatment. Having the staff there is something that I will never ever forget."

What is Hodgkin lymphoma and what are the symptoms?

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Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops when certain types of white blood cells stop working properly. It's one of the most common cancers diagnosed in 13-24-year-olds.

It develops in the lymphatic system – a network of glands and thin tubes that run through your body. Certain types of white blood cells, called Reed-Sternberg cells, stop working properly and multiply and collect around glands and other parts of the lymphatic system, which causes tumours to form.

It's usually diagnosed with a biopsy of the lump. It's usually treated with chemotherapy, sometimes combined with radiotherapy.

What are the symptoms?

  • Weight loss
  • Breathlessness
  • High temperature
  • Coughing
  • Sweating at night
  • Feeling tired
  • lumps in your neck, armpits or groin
  • feeling itchy
  • Pain or vomiting when drinking alcohol *Source: Teenage Cancer Trust