'Radioactive' teenager tells of cancer battle
It sounds like something out of science fiction, but for Paris Tompkins the way to help her beat cancer was to be made radioactive.
The 17-year-old was prescribed the treatment of radioactive iodine tablets after being diagnosed with papillory thyroid cancer, which is rare in someone of her age.
Paris, of Aylestone, Leicester, is hoping that by telling her story she can help promote Teenage Cancer Week running until Sunday and organised by the national Teenage Cancer Trust.
Paris, who took the tablets while in hospital in London, said: "It effectively made me radioactive.
"I had to be in a room by myself for a week in hospital and then three weeks after that I had to be in isolation at home. I had to use a different bathroom to everyone else and people couldn't sit next to me because of the radioactivity, but I was just glad I was able to have the treatment."
Paris, who has a twin sister Paige, first realised something was wrong in February 2010 when she felt a lump in her neck.
She said: "When I first felt it, it was about the size of a ping- pong ball but it didn't hurt.
"I went to my GP, where three doctors saw me and it was put down to an average teen bump. They told me to go back in six months if it hadn't changed.
"I had blood tests done and they all came back normal."
Within six weeks the lump had got a little bigger and Paris knew something was not right. Then her throat started to get sore.
She saw a different GP at her practice and was referred to Leicester Royal Infirmary.
More tests and biopsies followed – many of them failed to show anything wrong until one came back as positive for papillory thyroid cancer – a type of thyroid cancer.
Paris said: "It was a complete shock. I had expected the test to be normal and that I would be given some tablets.
"No-one had brought up the word cancer and then, all of a sudden, I needed to meet an oncologist."
In August 2010, she had surgery to remove her thyroid and doctors discovered there were two tumours – one she had not been able to see.
To kill off any cancer cells that might have been left, she was given two courses of radioactive iodine tablets, which Paris had at a hospital in London. While she is slowly getting better, Paris's sister has to have annual scans to make sure she is not developing the same cancer.
Paris told her story as part of Teenage Cancer Week, which aims to help young people know more about the signs and symptoms of cancer.
She said: "I really didn't know anything about cancer and I want to help get more people aware of it.
"Early detection is important to survival, which is another reason that awareness is so important."
A spokesman for the Teenage Cancer Trust said: "This isn't about scaring young people. We want the help them to speak up if they are worried.
"Most of the time the problem will be something else, but it's important they have the confidence to talk about it."