ALANNA Coughlan’s VCE goal wasn’t getting a high score. She didn’t even sit her exams. It was about gaining her high school certificate.
During her year 11 studies at Loreto College, Alanna was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia.
It meant Alanna had to complete year 12 in a different way to her classmates, spreading it over two years due to the treatment.
“I have treatment once a month and I am sick for two weeks, so I would come in for the other two weeks,” she said.
“There were a lot of times I felt like not doing year 12,” she said.
“With treatment, you just feel so stuck and so monotonous, whereas with school I actually felt like I was getting somewhere in life, because I just felt like it had stopped.”
Alanna’s mother Leanne said Alanna’s boyfriend was extremely helpful during the difficult period.
“He stuck with her every inch of the way. When we couldn’t cope he stepped in,” she said.
“Cancer patients get to a point when they just want to die because they feel so crook and that is where you have to step in.
“As I say to her, she went into it as a child and she came out as an adult. We can see the difference before and after. She is so mature for her age.”
The decision not to sit exams was made by Alanna.
“It reached a point where she had the choice to sit exams or not and over the past two years she hasn’t had much choice in anything,” Leanne said.
“She had to do the chemo and she had to do this or that and she decided she didn’t want to and she didn’t need to.”
Alanna is now heading off to Geelong to do a course in floristry.
The family credits having treatment in Ballarat as one of the main reason she got through year 12.
“After I finish treatment, I really want to promote – mainly teenagers but kids as well – to start getting treatment in Ballarat,” Alanna said. “It just makes so much difference.”
“To be treated locally just make such a huge difference. Especially to a young person, being close to home helps,” she said.