'I am so grateful': Northamptonshire teenager with cancer thanks those who donated to fundraiser set up by best friend

Doctors initially thought that Yami Moloteni, 19, had long Covid but it actually turned out to be stage two Hodgkin Lymphoma - a type of blood cancer

By Megan Hillery
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 5:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 5:52 pm

A fundraiser has been set up for a 19-year-old Northamptonshire woman whose cancer grew over Christmas, leaving her bed bound for her birthday.

At this time last year, Yami Moloteni, 19, was complaining of chest pains to her GP and she was told that it was likely she was suffering from long Covid. She was advised to take ibuprofen and assured that she would feel better soon. This was not the case.

Fast forward to June, just two days after being dismissed by another GP, she was rushed to A&E at Northampton General Hospital by her mum with a 'massive' pain in her chest.

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Yami Moloteni, 19, lost her hair when she started chemotherapy in September 2021.

She remained in hospital for two weeks and then a further eight days at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford as doctors scratched their heads, trying to figure out what was wrong.

A-Level results day in August loomed but Yami would not only be receiving her exam marks that day. A PET scan revealed she had stage two Hodgkin Lymphoma - an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body.

Yami said: "I already knew that it was cancer but I thought I could still go to university so the results day came around and they said there is no chance of you going to university this year. It was horrible because all my friends were like, 'I'm going to university' and I was like, 'I'm going to hospital.'"

Yami had to defer her university course for a year and now she has to routinely travel to Oxford for treatment. Her chemotherapy started in September 2021, which caused her long waist-length hair to start coming out in 'clumps.'

Her mother had to stop working for three months to support Yami and her dad worked night shifts to ensure her younger sisters, aged five and nine, were looked after.

Talking about the impact Yami's diagnosis had on her sisters, she said: "My five-year-old sister - she's still quite little so doesn't really know what's going on but, for my nine-year-old sister, it was horrible for her because it was like, 'when are you coming home' and she was so upset when I lost my hair. That was really tough for them as well."

On December 30, Yami was rushed back into hospital as she was struggling to breathe. A subsequent scan showed that her cancer had doubled in size.

The original plan was to have her latest round of chemotherapy after her nineteenth birthday on January 13 but this latest revelation meant that she had to be bed bound on her special day. A close friend did, however, make sure to throw her a surprise party to make up for it.

Yami, on her rounds of chemotherapy, said: "You don't realise how it has an impact on every day life - like, my mum being able to wake up and go to work but she has to check up on me.

"The first three weeks when I have chemo are the worst. I am in bed and mum is bringing me food then you have a week off and that's great and you get your energy back but then, the week after, it is three days of chemo again."

Yami's best friend, Amelia Skippen, launched a fundraiser to help raise much needed money to cover the costs of Yami's trips to Oxford, childcare for her younger sisters so that her parents can be with her whenever possible and donations to the cancer charities who have helped Yami and her family throughout her treatment.

Amelia said: "This has been such a horrible time for the whole family, especially with Covid, meaning we have rarely been able to see Yami and, when we have seen her, it’s been from a distance.

"Nobody should have to face cancer alone, particularly at such a young age. So please, if you can reach in to your pockets to help these guys have a better year, it would be massively appreciated.

"Yami should have also been at university this year but has had to have a year out to try and fix her health. Please help us help her achieve her dream and get her to university."

Amelia set up the fundraiser as a surprise for her best friend, Yami, who expressed delight and gratitude when she found out that the GoFundMe page has already accumulated £130 in donations as of January 18, 2022.

In a message to those who have kindly donated to the fundraiser so far, Yami said: "I can't even say thank you enough because these people don't even know me and, out of everyone they could help, they chose to help me - it's such a humbling experience. I am so grateful to everyone.

"It is one of the most common cancers for people of my age and I didn't even know that. I want to raise awareness for it as well."

Hodgkin lymphoma can develop at any age but it mostly affects people aged between 20 and 40 years and those over 75. Slightly more men than women are affected, according to the NHS.Around 2,100 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK each year.

To find out more about Yami's fundraiser or make a donation, visit the GoFundMe page.