TikTok star praises Hollyoaks for teenage cancer story after her own diagnosis

Hollyoaks’ digital-docuseries, entitled IRL, concludes with the story of TikTok star Shell Rowe, who opens up about her cancer diagnosis and road to recovery.

The BAFTA-nominated series features viewers of the Channel 4 soap whose lives have been forever changed by watching the popular serial, as well as individuals whose lived experiences helped shape some of the show’s most important and talked-about storylines.

Previous outings of the second series, which debuted last month, discussed the parallels seen in the serial drama’s recent storylines and real-life experiences involving women’s safety, alcoholism, incels and knife crime.

Shell Rowe, whose story is at the centre of this week’s outing, discusses teenage cancer with actress Niamh Blackshaw, who plays Juliet Nightingale on the show.

Juliet, as viewers know, has an aggressive form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is undergoing treatment, having received her diagnosis last year.

‘Watching the scene for the first time was very emotional for me and I found it hard to articulate how I was truly feeling,’ said Shell, who is currently in remission.

‘It took me back to that room where I was first ever diagnosed, a place I’ve not thought about in a long time. Niamh’s portrayal of the fear, sadness and confusion is so accurate that it came flooding back to me.

‘But I mostly felt emotional thinking about what I would say to myself in that position if I had the chance all these years down the line. I’d just let her know that it will all work out.’

Shell received a world-shattering diagnosis after her girlfriend noticed a lump on her throat. ‘Everything I knew just ended,’ she said of the life-changing moment, which took place during her second year of university.

The TikTok star heaped praise on Hollyoaks for tackling the storyline, as well as on Niamh, saying that meeting with her was a ‘privilege’, and that they ‘got along’ straight away.

‘The crew were absolutely amazing,’ she added. ‘They approached the subject with such sensitivity, thoughtfulness and a genuine curiosity. It was a real pleasure sharing my story with them. I think you can tell by my answers in the doc how comfortable and at ease I was to open up to them.’

In the Hollyoaks IRL outing, which you will be able to stream this Wednesday, Shell and Niamh discuss the importance of having a support system around during treatment. This is something Juliet found hard to accept at the beginning of her cancer journey – instead opting to push away her friends and family.

Shell discusses how valuable her girlfriend and her family’s support has been throughout it all. ‘My girlfriend Hannah has been absolutely fantastic; everyone always asks me actually how I stay positive, and I always say it’s because of Hannah.’

Wanting to give back to Teenage Cancer Trust – the charity that’s supported her through her ordeal – the growing influencer decided to use the videos to help encourage people to donate to the charity and raise awareness of the huge challenges facing young people with cancer.

Shell emphasises the importance of shows such as Hollyoaks in highlighting hard hitting issues like teenage cancer in an authentic and honest way.

‘Hollyoaks got in contact with me via Teenage Cancer Trust, which has been helping to advise their scriptwriters,’ she said. ‘With their storylines they try and speak to people to be as well informed as possible, which I think is fantastic, because we need that representation on screen and it’s so important to get it right.

‘Because it’ll make a huge impact, people seeing that storyline, you know maybe people will be able to spot the symptoms earlier, it really is fantastic.’

Shell told us that she’s ‘so proud’ of the documentary that Hollyoaks has produced. ‘I can’t wait for people to see it so we can raise more awareness for cancer in young people.’

Hollyoaks IRL: My Cancer Story – From Treatment to Trending will be available to stream on Wednesday February 15 on Hollyoaks’ official socials.

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