In 2016, around her 15th birthday, Violetta was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - a cancerous tumour in the bone. Momentum Children’s Charity have been supporting Violetta and her family for three years, throughout her treatment and subsequent remission. But on Christmas eve 2019, aged 18, Violetta was told that the cancer had returned, this time in her lungs. This is Violetta’s story.
“I remember the first time I met Momentum Children’s Charity. It was a few weeks into my first ever chemotherapy treatment and things had got bad. My hair was falling out, I’d lost loads of weight and all the side effects were really kicking in. I’d been rushed into Kingston hospital. It was a really hard time and when Bianca from Momentum walked in, introduced herself and whisked me out into the garden for an ice cream, she managed to put a smile on my face amidst all the upset.”
From there the team at Momentum stood alongside Violetta and her family through the gruelling chemotherapy treatment, finding ways to best support them all. Violetta recalls one of the most memorable - and unique - ways that the charity supported her:
“I had been bought tickets to Beyoncé for my birthday, and I just thought there’s no way it was going to happen. Aside from the hospital stay, no clothes fit you and you don’t feel good, so you don’t feel like you can dress up. The next thing I know Momentum had sent me gift vouchers so that I could buy clothes that made me feel like me again. It was the first time in ages I could say ‘I look good, I feel good’. The next day we get a call from Bianca saying there would be a limousine coming to take us to the concert too. I was so happy. I had the most amazing time!
“When you’re 15 and you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s not just the treatment that’s hard, it’s seeing all your friends moving on with their lives – going to school, talking to boys, going out – it was the worst thing ever to watch that happening all around me when I felt my life had stopped. Even when you finish treatment, you can’t get back to normal life and that was hard on me mentally. I felt very alone”
Having kept in close contact with Violetta and her family, Momentum were able to offer the right support, at the right time, to help Violetta to keep moving forward. They organised for a therapist to meet with her regularly at her home and talk through everything she was going through.
“It took a long time, but in 2019 things were looking up. Mentally and physically I felt good, I met Tom - my new boyfriend - and got away on lots of holidays with my family. But in December I started feeling an ache in my chest. I went to the doctors, who put it down to anxiety, but I think you know your own body so when things felt worse the next day I knew it was something more serious and asked mum to take me to A&E.”
After a long wait at hospital, Violetta and her mum were told that a mass had been found in her lung. Two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, they received the news that Violetta’s cancer had returned and that she would need a PET scan to see if it had spread further.
“The scan was very hard for me. A week of what-ifs. You’re 18 and you have to ask yourself these questions and be realistic with yourself. ‘What do I do if I get the news I don’t want to hear?’ When we got the results, and heard it hadn’t spread, I felt like I could breathe again. A lot of the time you feel like you are suffocating, not literally – metaphorically, so hearing that news felt like I could exhale a bit”
The day after the results, Violetta started her course of chemotherapy and is currently undergoing six sessions of two targeted chemotherapy drugs.
“Momentum Children’s Charity have been there every step of the way since my first diagnosis. For my mum, there is no one who has managed to put a smile on her face like Bianca and the Momentum Team. There are a lot of other charities out there which are great, but to get Bianca personally messaging you makes you feel that you really matter.”
To ease some of the stress of a tough treatment plan, Violetta and her family are hoping to enjoy a break at one of Momentum’s respite cabins, take a trip on the river boat and have some at-home stress relief courtesy of their massage therapist visits.
“They offer support for my whole family. Even between treatments they’ve always been there and now, starting treatment again, they have already organised some therapy sessions and a tutor to help with my studies if I need it. I’m so grateful for their support. I’m ready for treatment and what comes with it, I know it’s going to be rubbish but with Momentum there by my side I say, ‘bring it on!”