Imogen Atkins is an extraordinary young lady by any standard. Imogen’s sarcoma diagnosis was made at the tender age of 15. Her life was immediately turned upside down, undergoing a rigorous treatment regime including major surgery, but she like many other sarcoma patients, has chosen not to allow this cancer to define her life.
Prior to her diagnosis and the subsequent commencement of her treatment Imogen had the most beautiful long hair, which most teenagers (and adults) would envy. Knowing she would lose her hair throughout chemotherapy, she instead had it cut, and donated it to ‘Hair with a Heart, raising in excess of $27,000 in the process. Her magnificent hair was then used to make wigs for patients with medical conditions causing alopecia, and many patients benefitted from her huge heart, and enormous generosity of spirit, when she was going through so very much herself at the time. Her capacity to think of others at such a young age is truly remarkable.
Imogen, now days away from her 17th birthday, defies the cancer she has battled, by resuming the sporting activities she loves, and selflessly helps others through her work with the Queensland Youth Cancer Service.
Imogen continues to embrace life to the fullest, and is a constant reminder to those around her how to rise above adversity and find meaning in your life, despite the hurdles that may come your way. She is wise beyond her linear years, and we extend our heartfelt thanks to her, for sharing part two of her journey.
We cannot wait to see where life takes this inspirational young woman.
Imogen Atkins – in her own words…
Let’s start with school. At the moment I am halfway through my final year and on track to get a good OP. even though many people encouraged be to , a) repeat year 11, and b) to go down the path of getting a Rank instead. I have experienced a lot of times when I really had to push for what I wanted, and I’ve learned that if I know I can achieve something, I should push and achieve it.
Prior to the cancer, I was a very avid rower. It was truly heartbreaking and difficult when I was told I might not be able to row again, but being the persistent and slightly stubborn person I am, I refused to take that as a never. As soon as i was able to, I worked at regaining my strength and bend in my knee. So now I train several times a week, I am part of a crew, and it is amazing to be back on the water. Despite the cold mornings of training, being on the water is one of the most important things to me, and brings me so much joy.
I have also found out that I like having a voice. I am now part of the Queensland Youth Cancer Advisory Group. In this group I, and several others, advise Queensland Youth Cancer Service on health service planning, delivery, evaluation education and training, together with developing spaces and facilities for young patients and their families. We talk and discuss with people who are looking to improve their services. I am basically a voice trying to make another young person’s cancer journey or experience, just that little bit better, and a little bit easier. I feel this is really good and important.
After my cancer experience, I realised that I have to step into life, find ways of doing things, and never give up on my dreams. I can no longer ski, so I’m learning to snowboard. Recently I sat on a panel of people at a medical conference. I travelled to London and Finland with my family, and this month I’m going to be bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding. I am about as happy as i can be having gone through a year of cancer...