Brave Derby teen reveals how she is getting her life back on track after completing her cancer treatment
A teenage co-operator has revealed she has ‘rung the bell’ in her battle against cancer and shone a light on what it has been like living with the condition during lockdown.
Connie May Spencer, from Derby, had been shielding at home while she received chemotherapy treatment, but is now celebrating after finishing her treatment and starting the road to making a full recovery.
The City of Derby’s Youth Mayor has been keeping busy during lockdown and is now looking to use her role to give young people across the city a greater voice as she slowly regains her strength.
The 17-year-old said: “It feels so surreal to have finally rung the bell, a real bundle of mixed emotions.
“I’m so proud of myself to have made it through this tough journey and can’t believe it is the end.
“I’ve been waiting so long for the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel as though I’m finally there.
“Although I now know there is a long road to full recovery,I feel stronger than ever and have all the support I could ever need around me. The worst is finally over and the only way is up!
“Now I have finished treatment it means I can focus more on the recovery of my body and mental state. Chemotherapy took a lot out of me whether this was just brain fog or general lack of energy.
“It didn’t stop me, but did inhibit me, from doing as much as I would normally like to do so my plan is to get fully back on track with all my school work and continue to flourish in my Youth Mayor role.
“I plan to start realising my ideas for making society a better place for young people and also want to focus more on getting our voices heard.
“I feel like the voice of young people is a very powerful weapon and with my strength coming back I know have the energy to use it to its greatest potential.”
Connie also reflected on what it was like to battle cancer during lockdown conditions.
“Lockdown has been quite helpful for me - although not ideal for other students,” she said.
“It has meant I haven’t missed out on much of the teaching that would have happened within school.
“I’m now doing the same work as everyone else so I’m not much worse off. It has, though, been challenging with my parents working from home and my little brother being here instead of school.
“I’m excited for the lockdown rules to lift more so I can get out more, see more friends and get my social life back to what can be deemed as ‘normal’ especially now my treatment has finished.”
During lockdown, Connie has continued her growing interest in the co-operative movement by recording a special video that was played to thousands of people who took part in Central England Co-op’s first-ever online Members’ Meeting.
She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the first ever online annual members meeting. I loved the fact the colleagues were getting recognised and congratulated for all of their hard work and I think it’ll be a great lift for everyone in the company to actually see what an absolutely brilliant job they have done and are continuing to do.
“I was also very pleased that my video got played in the meeting; Central England Co-op has been a massive support to me so it was nice to say my bit back to all of the members and let them know what I’ve been up to.”
Connie is currently studying for A-levels in Maths, Economics and Psychology at Littleover Sixth Form.
In her role as Derby’s Youth Mayor she attends meetings at the council, attends regional and national events representing the young people in Derby and gets the voices of young people in Derby heard.
In January, she was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma and since then has been undertaking intense chemotherapy.
Connie’s mum Kate has worked for Central England Co-op for 24 years and now serves her local community as a Funeral Director in Derby.
Kate said: “Seeing Connie ring that bell at the end of her treatment was one of the best things ever. She is an inspiration to so many, especially during these times, and we are all looking forward to being with her on her journey to a full recovery.”
Notes to editors
Picture caption: Connie May.
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.
Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish.
Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.
Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
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We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.
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