Cancer survivor Andrea launches Race for Life
Andrea Harvey who was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, knows exactly how vital it is to raise funds for life-saving research.
That’s why she is looking forward to completing the Race for Life 5k at Stormont Estate Belfast on Sunday May 22.
Standing proudly with a sign showing her personal motivation for supporting the charity’s much-loved event, she is hoping to encourage women and men of all ages and abilities to sign up to their local event at raceforlife.org.
Around 9,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland every year* and one in two people in the UK born after 1960 will get cancer in their lifetime.** Money raised at Race for Life enables scientists to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer - helping to save more lives.
Andrea was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2008 and following chemotherapy was told she was in remission. “It was wonderful to hear that good news,” said Andrea, “but as time passed I had a niggling feeling that something was not right.
“I sought advice from doctors, who still said I was in remission, but when I found a lump on my neck, a biopsy revealed that the cancer was back, but this time it was Hodgkin Lymphoma. Once again, I was treated with chemotherapy and in May 2009 had a stem cell transplant.”
The chemotherapy damaged Andrea’s lungs which resulted in her having continuous chest infections for around three years, using an inhaler and prescribed antibiotics. Fast forward 13 years and the unthinkable happened. Andrea found swollen lymph nodes and was red flagged for a CT scan.
“I was totally devastated when told I had a tumour on my right ovary and also my liver,” recalls Andrea, “but was really worried when they said I would need an MRI but would have to wait.”
Andrea’s gran died from ovarian cancer, so she was anxious to have the scan as soon as possible. “Eventually I had it done privately,” she explained “and this confirmed ovary, liver and pelvis. But my anxiety increased when the hospital said I could not have surgery due to covid. This was in August 2020 and at that stage I had a 6cm ovarian tumour. When I eventually had surgery in February 2021 the tumour was 13cms.”
The surgery involved a full hysterectomy, removal of lymph nodes and the omentum - which is attached to the bottom edge of the stomach – and this is performed in cases where there is concern that there may be spread of cancerous tissue into it.
“Cancer was a tough thing to go through and there were many frightening moments,” said Andrea, but it will be a special moment this Spring when I stand at the start line at Race for Life. We all have a reason to Race for Life. For me it will be a celebration of my survival as well as a chance to raise money to help others facing cancer right now.
“It’s thanks to advances in research and treatments that I’m here and can enjoy more special moments with my family and friends.
“I’m excited to Race for Life and play my part to fund research today, which I hope will also help beat cancer for future generations.”