A Poulton mum who has been fighting cancer for 15 years is standing up to the disease and supporting a national campaign.
The 51-year-old and her daughter Grace are backing Stand Up To Cancer, a Cancer Research and Channel 4 fundraising campaign. The pair are urging local people to come together and show their support.
Launched in 2012, Stand Up To Cancer has already raised more than £25m to fund translational research, which takes developments in the lab and transforms them into new tests and treatments for cancer patients.
Mum-of-four Diane knows only too well how crucial such breakthroughs are. She lost her mother – aged just 44, grandmother and great aunt to breast cancer.
Doctors suspected Diane and her three sisters might have inherited a faulty gene and they were regularly monitored, with yearly mammograms.
When Diane was 36, she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ – cells in the ducts of her breast were starting to turn into cancer cells. She chose to have a double mastectomy as she wanted to do everything she could to reduce her risk of being diagnosed with cancer in the future.
Diane had surgery in Manchester and the reconstruction process began almost immediately. But the surgeon told Diane he had found a large cancerous tumour not visible on a scan and the cancer had already spread into the surrounding lymph nodes.
She began chemotherapy and signed-up for a clinical trial at The Christie, in Manchester, involving a new combination of drugs. Diane has taken part in two phase three trials and three phase one trials and is determined to put herself forward in future.
Genetic tests revealed Diane carries the BRCA2 gene, along with her sisters Claire and Colette. Older sister Jane was the only sibling to not carry the gene. Claire and Colette underwent preventative double mastectomies.
Diane also opted to have her womb and ovaries removed, as the faulty gene can increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
She remained cancer-free until 2008, when a scan revealed small tumours in her clavicle and breast bones. More chemotherapy shrank the tumours, but by 2010, a further scan showed a new tumour had grown.
She once again signed-up for a clinical trial and the tumour shrunk. For the past six years, she has been closely monitored and recently started weekly chemotherapy treatment again.
Diane, who worked for Lancashire Constabulary and is now retired, said: “When I was told the surgeon had found cancer during the double mastectomy, it was the last thing I thought I would hear. I thought I’d been so careful in having the surgery to prevent the cancer, but the operation saved my life.
“I did fear the worst, as my youngest child was only two at the time and I thought I wouldn’t live to see my kids grow up, or mark any of the important milestones in their lives.
“But I am still here, thanks to incredible clinical trials work. I am realistic there might not be a cure for me and I am living with cancer, but I’ve already beaten the odds with my prognosis.
“I’m more than happy to take part in trials, because my children and the next generation will benefit from the research. I am already living proof the research is working.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to stand up to this devastating disease.”
Daughter Grace, 21, said: “I’m so grateful for the treatment that is helping to keep my mum alive and I’m so proud to support Stand Up To Cancer.”
Cancer Research UK is calling on everyone in the region to Stand Up To Cancer and do something to help raise money at work, school or at home – from fancy dress days and bake sales to open mic nights. The charity is urging people to start now and sign up for their free fundraising pack.
Stand Up To Cancer is supported by a host of celebrities including Davina McCall and Alan Carr. It will culminate on October 21, with a night of live TV on Channel 4. Visit standuptocancer.org.uk