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Featured Image Credit: Lewis Maguire
For some people, their teenage years can be some of the best and hardest years of their lives. They're figuring out who they are and what they stand for all while navigating high school, university, first jobs and first partners.
But imagine going through that journey and hallway through, finding out you have stage four cancer.
That was the reality facing Lewis Maguire when he was just 16.
Lewis (centre) next to his brother and dad, who shaved their heads to support the young LAD
The Middlesbrough LAD was going about his life, as any teenager does, until he found a lump on his neck while watching TV. He nipped off to the doctors to see if it was anything to worry about and was told to wait a few days for the results to come back.
Lewis tells LADbible: "I was urgently called into the hospital and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, stage four, the worst stage. The lump in my neck grew rapidly so I had to start treatment as soon as possible as it was so close to my windpipe."
Imagine that, at just 16 being put on a rapid course of chemotherapy to stop an aggressive cancer from spreading through your body.
"At first I was a bit shell shocked as were my family because it was a lot of news to take in at once," he tells us. "Us well as being diagnosed I was also told I had to stay in hospital for the next week and that I needed an operation as well."
He had a pretty positive attitude towards fighting the cancer but says he couldn't have done it without the support of his mates and family for keeping him going during that seven-month battle. He would have chemotherapy in the morning and then would go to school, which helped keep his mind busy.
When June 2014 rolled around, doctors said he was in the clear.
Lewis' mates also shaved their heads to show their support
"I can't really put into words the feeling of beating it, but it's the best feeling I've ever had!" Lewis said. "Knowing you've beaten such a horrible illness is amazing."
You'd be pretty bloody chuffed to have got through a physical, mental and emotional battle like stage four cancer. He still had a journey left in front of him to get him back to 100 percent, but at least the disease was gone.
That was until a doctor's visit in January 2016 revealed the cancer had come back.
Lewis said: "Being told the second time was probably worse than the first time I'd say. Initially it was easier to take, but you think after you've beaten it once that you'd never have to think about it again.
"What's also worse is knowing what's ahead."
He did get a pretty awesome message from this famous footballer
Having tackled cancer before, he knew that in addition to the chemotherapy he'd need to stay optimistic and tell himself he'd make it through, just like last time. Lewis says his family tried to put on a brave face for him and keep the positive vibes flowing.
The second battle required longer stays at the hospital as well as a stem cell transplant of his own cells. Lewis says there was one person who he'd call his rock throughout this stage.
"My mum stayed every night, she's my rock I have no idea how I'd have coped without her," he tells LADbible.
Six months after his second diagnosis and doctors told him and his family that the cancer was gone. Imagine that, being just 18 and kicking cancer's ass TWICE.
But the disease wasn't done yet with Lewis.
Nearly a year after he beat Hodgkins Lymphoma for a second time, the cancer remerged and Lewis had to undergo chemotherapy again. But this time was different; the standard chemo wasn't working, and that was the first time where Lewis thought he might not survive.
He explains: "I was then put on a trial chemotherapy which worked, however it gave me this syndrome called Guillain-Barré which initially paralysed me from the neck down.
"That made everything 10 times worse as it delayed my bone marrow transplant by a few months because I had to recover to a point where I could sit up and move about more."
So not only was he battling cancer for a third time, but the only thing he could move in his entire body was his head and face. In addition to his chemotherapy, he had to do some intensive daily physiotherapy session to get his limbs working again.
Once that was done, the young LAD says what lay ahead was probably the most daunting part of his cancer battle.
He was placed in near complete isolation as his white cell and neutrophils count was zero, meaning his immune system was extremely susceptible to infection. He underwent another round of chemotherapy before having a bone marrow transplant. Lewis wasn't allowed to leave the room for three long weeks and he was permitted just two visitors.
But once that stint was done and dusted, his physicians gave him the all-clear for a third time and he was allowed to go home.
"When I left hospital, I went home and my brother, his girlfriend and my nephews came around," he says. "It was so good spending time with family.
"I still can't go to public places yet because I'm still prone to infections with me having a new immune system from the transplant so I've been at home most of the time."
On way home from hospital after easily the toughest 5 months of my life, but that's my bone marrow done and I've fucking smashed cancer all over, AGAIN!
Lewis 3-0 Cancer
- lew (@leweeyy14) February 14, 2018
The road to full recovery is long for the now 20-year-old, who says: "I can walk with the aid of foot splints and Zimmer frame, however I'm still quite a way off being able to walk normally.
Lewis says the cancer remerged each time in his neck, but over the course of his three battles, doctors found it in his chest, lungs, rib bone and spleen.
He's journey is inspiring to say the least, but he has an important message for anyone who's battling cancer: "They're going to smash it. Keeping a positive mindset whenever possible makes it all so much easier.
"I know that's easier said than done for some people but that's the best advice I can give.
"Never ever give up."
What an absolute legend.