A Fylde coast businesswoman who spent more than a decade undergoing cancer treatment is celebrating after being told she is in remission.
Heather Parkinson, 31, who runs a business in Kirkham, has finally been treatment-free for 12 months after spending more than a decade undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
And now she is even happier as doctors have told her she is now in remission from her cancer.
Heather said: “It is the best news I could have hoped for and I am ecstatic about it.
“The doctor has told me it is remission with a small ‘r’ rather than a capital one, but he is cautiously optimistic.
“For me, it is wonderful news – especially at this time of year – and me and my family are all delighted.”
Heather was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of just 19, when she started suffering from a cough which wouldn’t go away.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy managed to beat the disease – only for it to return two years later.
Heather’s plight hit the headlines after it was revealed health chiefs refused to fund a trial treatment run by London’s Royal Free Hospital which specialists believed was the best chance to help Heather.
Luckily for her, fund-raisers pulled together the £16,000 needed to pay for the trial treatment. Donations - including two anonymous ones of £3,000 - meant the money was raised in a matter of days.
The trial treatment managed to reduce Heather’s tumours drastically enough for her to undergo a stem cell transplant for which her sister Shelley was the donor.
However, after seven months, Heather was dealt a huge blow after a scan revealed new tumours in her chest. But she remained optimistic and began a new targeted chemotherapy with a newly licensed drug.
Heather, who owns a pet shop in Kirkham, says that although she still has cancer in her body, it has remained unchanged for the last year and specialists are happy with the way things are going.
And being told she is now in remission has given her fresh hope in her fight.
Heather said: “The cancer has not gone. It is still in my sternum.
“But it has not done anything for 12 months which is really good and now doctors say I am in remission.
“I have to go back to hospital for check-ups, but the doctors are happy with the way things are going.
“I am also happy with the way things are and am determined to stay upbeat and positive.
“I have been having regular scans to make sure the cancer has not grown and so far, things are looking good.
“I have now not had any treatment for 12 months.
“When you are used to having treatment so much, it is wonderful to finally be treatment free.
“My hair has actually had a chance to grow!
“I still get tired quite a lot but apart from that, I am doing great.
“I work one full day and two half days at my pet shop.
“But I can do a lot more now than I could while I was having all that treatment.
“Earlier this year, me and my mum did the eight-mile Moonlight Walk for St Catherine’s Hospice, where I was a patient.
“At one point, there was no way I would have had the energy to do anything like this.
“I’m not the type of person of worries about myself, so I am just taking each day at a time and hoping the cancer will continue to stay the same.
“I am just enjoying having extra energy and spending time with my chihuahuas and my family and working at my shop.
“I am a very positive person anyway, but being told I am in remission has given me an extra bit of hope.”