A teacher who trained in the North East was 'hours from death' after she was given a terrifying stage four cancer diagnosis. 

In March this year Newcastle University graduate Mollie Mulheron, 25, returned from working as a teacher in the Galapagos Islands; only to collapse in the local supermarket on her return to the UK, to find she was hours from death with a huge tumour engulfing her chest and heart.

She then spent 130 days hospitalised enduring seven surgeries, 800 hours chemotherapy, lost all her hair in the process but she was at least given a prognosis that meant if treatment went well she might survive.

The Northern Echo: Mollie having to get what was left of her hair shaved offMollie having to get what was left of her hair shaved off (Image: NHS NORTH EAST)

At the end of October, she returned to the hospital to be given the all-clear and told she was now cancer-free.

She said: “I’ve been devastated by cancer and almost don’t recognise myself both inside and out; the hair loss was a massive part of my identity and the trauma of coping with a life-threatening illness, the isolation, and the long road back to recovery has changed me forever.

The Northern Echo: Mollie in the Galapagos Islands Mollie in the Galapagos Islands (Image: NHS NORTH EAST)

"But I never failed to recognise that I have been incredibly lucky, I’ve met some really positive people in the months I was hospitalised who were not given the same hope with their treatment as me.”

Mollie, originally from North Yorkshire, completed her degree and PGCE teaching qualification in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2022 where she had been living with her boyfriend, but following their split she then embarked on a life-changing adventure taking a teaching post in the Ecuadorian Galapagos Islands.

The Northern Echo: Mollie Mulheron ringing the bellMollie Mulheron ringing the bell (Image: NHS NORTH EAST)

She added: “I loved living in Newcastle and stayed on after finishing my degree, completing a PGCE teaching qualification. But instead of finding work in the UK, I split from my boyfriend and within a week had found an English teaching opportunity in the Galapagos Islands and decided to take the leap.

“I loved it there it was amazing, but I began experiencing symptoms such as painful breathing, trouble swallowing, an achy and itchy body, constant exhaustion and finally just before I returned to the UK a shocking rash all over my lower body.

“I had no idea at the time that I was literally hours from dying, and when I returned to the UK I became increasingly unwell without any credible explanation.

The Northern Echo: Mollie with copies of her bookMollie with copies of her book (Image: NHS NORTH EAST)

“Within two days of returning, I collapsed in the local supermarket and was rushed to hospital. It was only after I had a scan that I was shockingly diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma; I couldn’t take it in, my parents and my brother were expecting a tropical disease of some sort and instead, they got this awful news."

Now cancer-free, Mollie has now published a book about her experiences as a guide for young people facing a similar devastating diagnosis. It’s called ‘Live, Laugh, Lymphoma - a young persons guide to giving cancer the middle finger.’

The Northern Echo: Mollie in the Galapagos IslandsMollie in the Galapagos Islands (Image: NHS NORTH EAST)

“When you’re hospitalised, you’ve got nothing but time. I hate not having a goal and just lying around worrying so after about 30 days of this I came up with the idea of writing a book for young people who may have to go through something similar - what the doctors don’t tell you. The diagnosis was all so new and there was nothing out there to inform you.

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“When I went online for quality wigs after my hair fell out, there was very little out there so I did some research and included it in the book so the wigs I found were realistic and gave you some confidence back in your appearance.

“I suffered a lot with what I call leg restlessness, my legs just wouldn’t settle. So I discovered magnesium spray that stopped it and a drug that helped with it being so uncomfortable and prickly.

"My plan is to distribute these books throughout the country on teenage and young adult cancer wards free of charge for anyone that needs it. I have also made it available on Amazon. If I can help just one person through my guide, then getting cancer at such a young age doesn't feel like it was all for nothing.”