Spanish and linguistics student Nathalie Holt, 21, felt scared after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma two months ago - "you'd be stupid if you weren't. But you've got to get through it, because if you don't you're not going to help anyone."
And in thanks for the care she has received from the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, Radlett-born Ms Holt has helped to raise more than £6,000 for the charity from an online campaign.
"It's nice to do something so that when you're stuck in bed you know you're helping other people." Further funds have been raised from her father, brother and boyfriend shaving their heads.
"The people who work there are incredible," she said of the TCT. "They all know who you are and say 'hi' to you. Everyone goes the extra mile and that makes a big difference.
"They have a co-ordinator who organises social events and there are massages, yoga, Pilates, and a person who helps you with finances and career advice.
It can feel isolating having Hodgkin's at my age
"There's also a huge space outdoors, which is nice, and you can get chemotherapy on the couch watching TV rather than in a dentist's chair. When I stayed there it didn't feel like I was in a hospital, just in nice surroundings."
Speaking to other young patients had "helped loads", added the Nottingham Trent University student.
"It can feel isolating having Hodgkin's, especially as it's something not associated with my age group, so it's good that I can talk to people who have had it."
Ms Holt has also donated nine inches of her hair to the Little Princess Trust, a charity providing wigs for cancer patients.
"I've always had long hair and I knew I was going to lose it [because of chemotherapy] but I think that for a child, hair would be way more traumatic to lose. If I could help someone out along the way I thought I might as well."
Having just finished her second cycle of chemotherapy, she said "there are loads of positives which come out of a life-changing situation. You know who's there for you.
"It's really important to keep your sense of humour and surround yourself with positivity because your mental state is nearly as important as your physical state."
She has retained her sense of humour, joking that while it was "lovely" that the men in her life had supportively shaved their heads, "it looks really stupid when we're walking along together".