After a successful drug trial at Western Park Hospital, cancer sufferer Janet made it her mission to raise money for the charity
Janet Blackburn of Hillsborough was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and just two weeks later her husband, Robin, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.
Following the diagnosis, Janet had her lymph nodes removed, underwent a mastectomy and received chemotherapy at Weston Park Hospital, and responded well to treatment. But sadly, her husband lost his fight with cancer in 2011, whilst both were receiving treatment simultaneously.
“I feel honoured and humbled to have been able to share the precious moments we had left with Rob,” says Janet. “None of which would have been possible without the help and support of Weston Park Hospital and the specialist palliative care team at Northern General Hospital.
“I was very nervous about being admitted to Weston Park, not really knowing what to expect, or if I would be able to support my husband during his treatment. And yet, within an hour of arriving, the fantastic team had made me feel fully at home.
In March 2011, Janet was offered the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial called the D-CARE Study, which involved six sessions of chemotherapy followed by check-ups at the hospital every three months.
“Janet was one of the first patients to sign up to the D-Care study and we are so grateful to her, and the other patients who sign up to these studies, because not only do they often receive new cutting edge medicines first, they also help to improve quality of care and treatment for future patients. Says Sarah Brown, research nurse at the Cancer Clinical Trials Centre. “Meeting patients like Janet is the best part of my job.”
D-CARE is a trial in women with breast cancer looking to see if a drug called Denosumab, which is normally used to strengthen and protect the bones from weakening due to osteoporosis or damage from cancers that have spread to the bones, can also help prevent breast cancer from spreading in the first place.
"I was afraid that my whole world was going to come crumbling down, but instead, it was just the beginning.I miss Rob every day, but getting through the D-CARE trial made me feel like I had to go on, and not to let cancer be the deciding factor in how I'm going to lead my life.
“It doesn't end - it will be a lifelong journey - but I know everyone at Weston Park is there for me and will be walking with me for the rest of my life."
Since diagnosis and whilst still receiving treatment, Janet has gone on to raise £27,335.14 for Weston Park Cancer Charity through various fundraising initiatives.
“The staff at Weston Park Hospital, and in particular at the Cancer Clinical Trials Centre saved my life, and reinforced what I already knew - continuing cancer research is the only way forward. Every penny I raise for the Cancer Charity is a huge thank you from me, and I hope that one day I can raise enough to give more cancer patients access to pivotal treatment options.”
“The response from my family, friends and the local and wider community has been tremendous. I’m thankful to everyone inspired by my effort and who contributes to my fundraising endeavour. It’s all about putting yourself out there and going for it and I’m hopeful that research will take us even closer to ending cancer."
If you would like to make a donation or assist Janet in her fundraising, call: 07748372591. And in the meantime, visit: www.westonpark.org.uk to find out more about Weston Park Hospital and the pioneering research bringing forward the day when all cancers are cured.