At the age of 13, most teenagers worry about doing their homework and what clothes to wear.
But Dundee’s Megan Fletcher was faced with the prospect of gruelling chemotherapy, losing her hair and even death when she was told she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September 2015.
Now 17, Megan, who lives in the old Dundee Royal Infirmary building, reached the milestone this week of three years since her diagnosis – and has her sights set on putting the disease behind her for good.
The make-up artistry student was the face of the Tele’s Bald is Beautiful campaign, which raised more than £20,000 for local children suffering from cancer while fighting the illness herself.
Megan was diagnosed after she discovered a lump under her arm.
She said: “Although I’m in remission it doesn’t mean that I’m better. There’s still the risk of me being unwell again. But in March, if I am still in remission, it means I will only have yearly check-ups, instead of every three months.”
She said that one of the hardest parts of her illness had been how others had treated her when she was unwell.
Megan said: “Losing friends has been the hardest part for me, more than the treatment. People were there for me, but I came to realise that they were there for their own benefit and liked to have someone to feel sorry for. They weren’t really there for me, it was more to make themselves look good.
“That’s not to say the chemo was easy. I was really sick from it all the time and was obviously in hospital a lot, which was hard.”
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is an uncommon cancer that affects cells in the immune system, making them lose their infection-fighting properties. As such, sufferers are more vulnerable to infection.
Megan said: “What I found was keeping busy really helped.
“Being involved in the Bald is Beautiful campaign gave me something to focus on so I wasn’t thinking about my illness all the time and didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself.
“Now I’m doing my studies and want to work in film make-up. And I also work part-time on a Sunday at Archive Studios, which just opened inside the Archive clothes shop two weeks ago. I’m involved with the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers – this weekend we’re at the V&A opening, helping out with different things.
“In a few ways, being ill has made me a better person. I used to be shy, but I’m more outgoing and happy to speak to new people.
“Being ill made me realise that you only have one life and you really have to live it and do what you want to do.
“If anyone was in my situation, I’d say to them to think about themselves. Don’t worry about what people are doing, or think about you, concentrate on getting better.”