Alannah Russell from Limerick says she had never heard of Hodgkins Lymphoma when she was diagnosed with the condition last year at the age of 20.

Whereas the risk of developing most types of cancer is known to increase with age, Hodgkins Lymphoma is relatively more common among younger people, although it is still relatively rare with around 150 cases in Ireland each year.

For Alannah, much of what she experienced after hearing the shocking news felt totally alien to her.

For example she recalls exploring her suitability for IVF to help protect her fertility after treatment, which up to that point she had only ever thought this was something “for older women to consider”.

Thankfully she has responded well to treatment and finished chemotherapy in January, but there were plenty of other unfamiliar and unexpected experiences awaiting Alannah along the way.

She remembers one particular instance before she was diagnosed where she was experiencing such severe temperature fluctuations and nightsweats that she had to change her pyjamas during the night.

As with many others her age, around the time this was all happening Alannah was busy trying to juggle college life and working a part-time job.

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It was such a hectic period, I kept putting my symptoms down to day to day tiredness.

Whereas isolated incidents may not be a cause for worry, it’s true for anyone no matter their age that persistent symptoms need to be checked to rule out any potentially concerning causes.

Alannah is grateful to her grandmother for insisting that she be seen by her GP after a number of such unexplained episodes, and she was referred to hospital from there.

She’s now a big advocate for people to seek medical help where they feel something is amiss.

“I eventually knew there was something wrong. It was right in front of me, and I couldn’t see it until the end,” explains Alannah, referring to long-standing symptoms including a cough that wouldn’t clear, rashes and nightsweats, which started from last January.

Keen to make a positive out of the challenges she has faced, and she did fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society for her birthday last year while undergoing treatment.

Although she modestly quips that she didn’t think it would “even get a tenner”, Alannah ended up raising over €1k for cancer services and research.

“I’m glad to know that if I ever need their services the Irish Cancer Society are there for me, or for anyone else who needs them.”

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