William Florin: “There was no other option than to get well”

Name: William Florin
Age: 17
Cancer: Nasopharyngeal cancer

William Florin. Photo: Emelie Asplund

“I fell ill when I was fifteen and in my last year at school. It all started with a lump in my neck, which turned out to be nasopharyngeal cancer, a cancer of the nasopharynx with metastases in the lymph nodes. It affects one teenager once every three years. That time it was me. Sometimes you’re faced with a tough challenge and there’s only one sensible way to deal with it – that’s how I felt. I was going to get better. I couldn’t just say goodbye at the age of fifteen. I wasn’t ready for that. The cancer was inoperable, and instead I had the highest possible doses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I couldn’t eat for six months and lost seventeen kilos. But I felt at a loose end and wanted to do something positive for other people.

Dad suggested I wrote a blog, and so I started the ‘JagSka.se’ blog, which was about everything that was happening to me. I got in touch with celebrities from YouTube and Paradise Hotel and asked them to share my blog on social media. JagSka.se got 40,000 followers. I made bracelets that were bought by people from right across Sweden. All the proceeds went to the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation. We have raised SEK 10,000.

When I finished the treatment I started going to the gym. That’s where I feel at my best. I have a personal trainer thanks to a foundation for young people who have had cancer.

I’m now seventeen and studying to become an electrician, but I want to be a personal trainer for other people who have had cancer.

My main problem is that I can no longer produce saliva, as the radiotherapy damaged my salivary glands. So I always have to have a bottle of water with me. In tests for a dry mouth, the saliva level is 0.7 ml. With me it’s 0.3 ml. It’s nothing really. Otherwise I’m just as I was before the cancer. I have made the best use of the illness I can.”

As told to: Pia Vingros, first published in the magazine "Medicinsk Vetenskap", no 3, 2016.