How a University of Portsmouth student whose tonsillitis turned out to be cancer is raising money for charity through gaming

Connor Shellis
Connor Shellis
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IT ALL started with a sore throat but a University of Portsmouth student was left shocked after what doctors originally thought was tonsillitis turned out to be cancer.

Connor Shellis was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in May 2016 when he was 20.

Connor Shellis with his mum and grandmother

Connor Shellis with his mum and grandmother

The now 23-year-old said: ‘Apart from my tonsil being painful and not eating particularly well, I felt fine. I didn’t have any weird symptoms or anything. 

‘When they first told me I had so many questions like “what the hell?” We eventually went into a separate room and I burst out crying.’

The game technology student, originally from Devon, started an intense chemotherapy programme which meant at times he was on the ward for five days at a time with 24-hour chemotherapy. 

In April 2019 he had his last scan but after treatment ended Connor struggled mentally.

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He said: ‘I found the end of treatment was actually the hardest bit. When you are on treatment everything was structured and timed but then when you finish it’s just like that’s it.’

Cancer charity CLIC Sargent provided Connor with support but gaming also became another support and he joined a few communities online and made friends around the world. 

He said: ‘Meeting new people online was great because it gave me something to escape to. Everywhere else it was clear I was ill because I looked ill. The other gamers didn’t know anything about my cancer, and I didn’t have think about it.’

Now the cancer survivor and keen gamer is hoping to give back to others through gaming by supporting CLIC Sargent’s national fundraising drive, ‘Player vs. Cancer.’

The campaign means that gamers can raise funds for the charity whether streaming online or playing at home with friends.

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Connor added: ‘I hope gamers everywhere get involved with this campaign, any money raised big or small will make a huge difference for young people who might be on treatment now and need that support.

Rachel Kirby-Rider, director of income and engagement at CLIC Sargent, said: ‘Player vs Cancer is gaming for good, all the money raised will help us to continue supporting children and young people like Connor.’

To find out more visit clicsargent.org.uk/join-our-fight/get-fundraising/player-vs-cancer/