A teenager battling cancer was so radioactive due to her treatment that her sweat and urine became toxic — meaning she couldn’t even hug her mum.
Morgan Steele, 14, was forced to stay away from her friends and family during her treatment for thyroid cancer, while everything she touched while taking the disease killing tablet had to be thrown away due to its toxicity.
She has been named the face of a Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life campaign and her mum plans to run the Irvine, Ayrshire, race to raise money for the charity.
Morgan was first treated for tonsillitis before discovering a four-inch long oval lump on her neck in 2014.
But after the lump was removed along with half her thyroid she was diagnosed with cancer.
Weeks later she underwent another surgery to remove the rest of her thyroid, which is a butterfly-shaped gland just above the voicebox.
Morgan then was given radiodine treatment – a pill which is a form of internal radiotherapy in March 2015.
The radioactive iodine is a targeted treatment which kills only the thyroid cancer cells and doesn’t affect other cells in the body.
But the side-effects meant she was at risk of even setting off security alarms in shops and airports for three months.
Morgan said: “The pill, inside several protective boxes and a test tube, was wheeled in to me on a trolley by a nurse wearing gloves.
“She said I shouldn’t let the pill touch the sides of my mouth and to swallow it straight down. It was only after I took it that I began to feel scared.
“I couldn’t help thinking, ‘if this pill is so harmful and no-one is allowed to come near me, then why am I taking it?’. I just cried and cried.”
Diane, 40, was waiting outside with partner Billy Fowler, 25.
She was only allowed in to comfort Morgan after being attached to a special monitor that would sound an alarm if she was exposed to too much radiation.
Diane said: “I was only allowed in for a couple of minutes, but it was enough to help calm Morgan down.
“Leaving that room is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, I just wanted to stay and cuddle her. I cried all the way to the car. Life has been on hold for the past year.”
Morgan had a third operation in February this year as well as a second radioiodine treatment on March 14 this year.
She is now awaiting another scan but also concentrating on her school work, as she hopes to one day become a paediatric nurse – a decision she made while battling cancer.
She said: “All the doctors and nurses have been amazing with me. I want to be able to do that for little kids when I grow up and I think I’d be good at it because I’ll know exactly how they’re feeling.
“I’ve been there. I’m still there at the minute but hopefully it won’t be long before I can put it all behind me.”
And Morgan is now urging people to sign up for the Race for Life, with 5k 10k and Pretty Muddy events taking place across the country between May and September this year.
She said: “Race for Life is so important. My mum is running this year and I want as many women and girls as possible to join her.
“It gives hope to people like me – people who are fighting cancer right now.”
Diane, who is also mum to Robbie 16, Ewan, 10, and Georgia, three, added: “Race for Life is my way of standing up to this awful disease.
“Hopefully one day cancer will be a thing of the past and people won’t have to go through what we’ve been through. That’s why Race For Life is so important – every penny brings us closer to that day.”