A LITTLE over 12 months ago Elizabeth Edwards had her life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with cancer.
The pretty teenager spent Christmas of 2012 in a state of shock after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, when she was just 18-years-old.
Elizabeth started four months of gruelling chemotherapy on the New Year’s Eve when she vowed not be beaten by the disease.
And now the battling 19-year-old is well on the road to recovery and after she completes her A-Levels in May is targeting a coveted spot studying medicine at York University.
Surrounded by her proud family, Elizabeth, who lives in Auckland Way, Hartlepool, told the Mail: “It was such a massive shock when I was diagnosed.
“I was only 18, you can never ever prepare for yourself for being told you are suffering with cancer.
“But I knew I had to face it head on and battle it and fortunately the treatment went well.”
Around 1,600 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, in the UK every year.
Elizabeth hadn’t been suffering with any obvious symptoms but went for a routine check-up with her GP after finding a small lump on her neck.
She was then transferred to hospital for tests where she was given the horror diagnosis.
“That was why I think it came as such a shock,” said Elizabeth, who studies at Teesside High School, in Eaglescliffe.
“I hadn’t been feeling particularly unwell but when I found the lump I thought it was best to get it checked out.
“But at the time I just thought it was swollen glands or something like that.
“It just goes to show how important it is to go and get checked if you find anything like that, even if you don’t think it could be cancer.”
Fortunately the treatment went well and Elizabeth went into remission in May.
And now the inspirational teen is looking forward to the next 12 months after a turbulent 2013.
After spending last Christmas devastated after the diagnosis, Elizabeth ensured she made the most of the festive period this time around, spending it with her loving family.
And there was one other thing she really wanted to do - plunge into the freezing sea with hundreds of others for the Boxing Day dip.
“In 2012 it was only a week after my diagnosis so I just had to watch while my friends and relatives did the dip,” said Elizabeth, who lives with her proud parents Richard, 47, a director at pharmacy chain Boots and Alison, 47, an accountant, and older sister Rachel, 23.
“But I vowed then that the next year I would be fit and healthy enough to do it and I was.”
Elizabeth, Rachel and her close friend Pippa Walker, 23, also raised nearly £1,000 in sponsorship money for the Teenage Cancer Trust by braving the freezing waters at the dip.
Elizabeth is now continuing to work extremely hard at college to ensure she gets the grades she needs to book a dream spot at York University.
Mum Alison said: “We are all so proud.
“The way she dealt with it all was incredibly brave.”