Niamh 1 – 0 Cancer

‘Fearless’ and ‘Positive’, is how Vicki, Niamh’s mum, described her daughter as she went through chemotherapy to treat her stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis. Not only did Niamh beat it (she smashed it!), but she also kept active throughout the process. We’re here to tell the story of how Niamh beat cancer, but also the key part that keeping active played for her.

The date was Wednesday 8th March 2023. Niamh and Vicki had discovered a lump in Niamh’s neck the night before. She saw her GP who immediately sent her to Falkirk Hospital, and from there she was transferred to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow. Niamh underwent various scans before the Oncologist diagnosed that Niamh had Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Understandably, this was devastating and frightening to Niamh, as well as her family and friends, and teammates at Stenhousemuir Girls under 12’s, for whom she played. On 17th March, (only 9 days after finding the lump), Niamh underwent an operation to remove the lymph node.

The Royal Hospital for Children were extremely efficient in dealing with Niamh’s illness and have to be commended for it, and she and her mum are very grateful for the wonderful care she received.

The operation, however, would mean a spell on the side lines on for Niamh. She was scheduled in for four rounds of chemotherapy, that involved the family having to attend the hospital every day for 2 weeks at a time, over the course of 4 months. Niamh was only able to attend her school (Kinnaird Primary School) on an intermittent basis, and the same was true for her football training. The Stenhousemuir team coaches tailored the training to suit Niamh when she was able to attend.

Vicki knew it was “important to keep her on the go throughout her treatment”, and so encouraged Niamh to attend training and school whenever she could. They would also be regular attendees at Stenhousemuir FC First Team games, watching the first team on a Saturday, before watching her teammates play on a Sunday, home and away such is their commitment to the club.

The process was not without the difficulties, however. The family went away on a holiday to Dunbar, but the diagnosis had presented a new set of challenges. Vicki had to make sure that they had clear access to a nearby hospital in case Niamh needed urgent care.  Thankfully the holiday went without any unwanted hospital trips!

There were bad days, but Niamh took them all in her stride. She attended her teammates’ birthday parties and was regularly involved in group chat facetime sessions.

Her positive attitude and continual desire to be active that Niamh maintained throughout her illness and recovery saw her achieve what every cancer patient wants to be able to do – ring that bell –and amazingly Niamh achieved this on the 25th August (only 170 days after first finding the lump) much to the delight of her family, friends and everyone at Stenhousemuir FC.

As ever, Niamh didn’t waste any time getting back into the swing of things. She recently competed at the Cumbernauld Colts tournament, where she was captain of her team. It was at this point that Niamh felt “a real sense of achievement” at all she had overcome.

Niamh wasn’t satisfied with that however – she wanted more. She recently achieved her black tag in Taekwondo (specifically Poomsae), and is now one step away from achieving her black belt. She is also travelling to Manchester today to compete for the GB Development Squad, for which everyone at Stenhousemuir FC and Warriors in the Community wish her the best of luck!

Not only did Niamh beat cancer, she kept a smile on her face throughout, kept active and has continued to represent Stenhousemuir and GB Taekwondo to the highest of standards. She has shown that cancer can be beaten.

You can read more on Cancer Research UK here. Thanks to Niamh and Niamh’s mum Vicki, for sharing their story with us. We’re immensely proud of Niamh!