A young woman has opened up about her battle with cancer three times before she was 18, saying she chooses to “make the most of every experience.”
A young woman has shared her triple battle with cancer, all before she turned 18, in hopes of raising awareness of the diseases that can kill children.
Despite her ongoing treatments and diagnosis, 22-year-old Sophie Kyprianou has chosen to look at life in a positive way.
The Sydney resident of Greenwich was just 14 when she was first diagnosed with a form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
It forced her to have a shoulder replacement during her chemotherapy treatment, and she missed an entire year of school.
Miss Kyprianou’s second diagnosis came three years later, in February 2017, when a blood test revealed she had myelodysplastic syndrome that turned into leukemia. She needed immediate treatment and a bone marrow transplant.
In June of that year, Miss Kyprianou noticed a lump in her neck, and a biopsy of her lymph node revealed that she had diffuse B-cell lymphoma, a rare cancer of the immune system characterized by overproduction of B-cells.
Because her bone marrow was so new, it posed significant risks to her health and she was placed in intensive care.
Miss Kyprianou still gets monthly immunoglobin infusions to boost her immune system, but said she was now cancer-free.
Looking back on her experiences, she said she was a very determined person and chose to be positive about situations in her life.
“I remember being sick for the first time and being on treatment for about five months. I was in my hospital bed, so exhausted,” she said.
“Then something changed in my head and I thought there was no point in being mad or angry or feeling sorry for myself… so I thought I’d make the best of it and I did.”
After her subsequent diagnoses, Ms. Kyprianou said she had come through it knowing she had already overcome cancer and that the alternative was fatal – something she wouldn’t let happen.
“After everything I’ve been through, I think now I need to make the most of life and make every day count,” she said.
“I certainly didn’t have a normal teenage life, but I look at it now that I’m a bit older and I’m glad I grew up so quickly.
“I have a good feeling in my bones that it will be okay (in the future) … In my mind I’m not afraid it will come back again.”
The University of Technology Sydney student is now pursuing a degree in event management as she plans to plan and organize major fundraising events to raise money for cancer research and give back to others.
Miss Kyprianou, who said she wasn’t normally candid about her battles, decided to talk about her experiences for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month because she wanted to “make a difference.”
She and her family participate in The Kids’ Cancer Project’s Better Challenge, running or walking 90 km throughout the month to raise awareness and raise money for medical research to find more effective cancer treatments.
“I think it would have been very difficult for them (her family) to see their child go through it, but they were my biggest supporters. We were a team and we did it all together.
“I got a lot when I was sick, so it’s nice to give something back.”
According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), approximately 870 children up to the age of 14 in Australia are diagnosed with cancer every year.
Leukemia also appears to be the most common cancer in children.