10 October 2008
When Joanne Leonard went to the doctor last year she thought she had a tummy bug. But within weeks, doctors told the young mum from Loughor, Swansea that she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the pancreas and chest, and that she faced major surgery and intensive cancer treatment.
Joanne, who was then 27, was enjoying time off from her work as a research consultant with her five month old baby Aled. Family and friends stepped in as Joanne underwent surgery in Morriston Hospital, followed by radiotherapy and eight sessions of chemotherapy over a seven month period at Singleton Hospital.
"I spent my 28th and 29th birthdays in hospital. I was pretty poorly and spent some time in intensive care after surgery. I had to have five sessions of radiotherapy to reduce the mass in my chest, to improve my breathing before I could have the chemo."
But now, 15 months on Joanne is celebrating after being told, just last week, that the cancer had been completely destroyed. She celebrated with her partner, David Malpas and little Aled, who is now 21 months.
Joanne turned to the Macmillan Cancer Support website for advice about her illness and welfare rights. Thanks to the help she got online she has now signed up as a Cancer Voice to help others like her.
"It is rare for young women to contract non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and so I would like to help other women like me, to be able to learn from my experience. I want people to know that they are not alone. When I was ill I read about a woman with my cancer and I was eager to discover how she got on. If I can help one person I will be happy."
Macmillan Cancer Voices is a nationwide network, providing people affected by cancer with opportunities to share their experiences and help improve cancer care. Anyone affected by cancer can become a Cancer Voice, including those who have or have had cancer and those close to them, such as carers and family members.
This unique programme is one of many schemes and initiatives from Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan have more than 200 professionals working in hospitals and the communities all over Wales, including specialist nurses, GPs, pharmacists, dieticians and welfare benefits advisers. This is only possible thanks to the money raised through events, including our World's Biggest Coffee Morning – which was held on 26 September.
Last year more then 2,000 coffee morning events were held across Wales, raising more than £280,000. It's easy to hold a coffee morning - just get together with friends, family or colleagues, add a drink of your choice and something tasty to eat and instantly you're part of Macmillan's record-breaking World's Biggest Coffee Morning.
This year's World's Biggest Coffee Morning was held on 26 September and we're hoping for another record breaking year! If you haven't paid in your money yet you can do so here. You can support the World's Biggest Coffee Morning by cheque or online at www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee or by debit or credit card on 0845 602 1246.
For more information please contact Becky Land, Communications Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support 01656 867969/ 07764 503482