Cancer survivor to go that extra mile for charity cause

Joanna Reynolds with Paula Young from Cancer Research UK.

Joanna Reynolds with Paula Young from Cancer Research UK.

First published in Local

A YOUNG Droitwich Spa woman who has survived a rare type of cancer has signed up to raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK for the second year running.

Joanna Reynolds was only 27 when she was diagnosed with a type of ovarian cancer that was only treatable with surgery. She lost both ovaries and all her eggs as a result of the treatment that saved her life.

Last year the Landrover and Jaguar worker rallied 18 friends and relatives to join her for the Race for Life event in Worcester and other Cancer Research UK fundraising events, raising £5,000 for vital research.

This year she hopes to muster an even larger gang of friends to take part in the 5k Race for Life event at Pitchcroft Racecourse on Sunday, June 16. Together the group hope to raise even more money than last year.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life is an inspiring women-only series of events which raises millions of pounds every year towards life-saving research. Joanna will be joining around 3,400 women at the Worcester event.

Joanna’s symptoms began in summer 2011 when she started having stomach pains. She was initially treated for IBS and suspected appendicitis, but by Christmas she was so ill she could barely eat.

“My mum is a sonographer working in gynaecology so she came with me to the doctors and they arranged for me to have a scan with one of her colleagues,” said Joanna.

“Mum had endometriosis when she was very young, so I convinced myself it would be that, but I know Mum had her secret worries. Even so, when the gynaecologist told us it could be ovarian cancer we were all stunned – I was so young.”

A full body scan revealed tumours on both Joanna’s ovaries but showed it had not spread anywhere else. Joanna was just about to complete a degree in speech and language therapy at Birmingham City University and had to put her studies on hold while she underwent treatment.

“I had a five hour operation on Valentine’s Day last year. The cancer turned out to be a type that didn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, so they removed both my ovaries, my omentum and my appendix. Sadly, the surgeons were not able to save any of my eggs, but I do still have my uterus and cervix, so donated eggs are an option for the future,” she said.

Joanna’s last scan, just after Christmas, showed she was clear of cancer. She says her ordeal has been hard to come to terms with but she now just wants to get on with her life.

“I do a lot of running and had done Race for Life a couple of years before I was diagnosed. But last year it had added poignancy, and a great group of friends and family did it with me, raising over £1,500 for Race for Life. We held a fundraising party afterwards and in total raised over £5,000 for Cancer Research UK.

“This year there should be even more of us bringing in money for Race for Life; again followed by a big fundraising event at Himbleton Cricket Club where we hope to raise even more money for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work,” she added.

“It is really important to me to give something back after the life-saving treatment I had. I am so grateful still to be here, and I want to do something to help in the battle against cancer.”

To enter Race for Life, visit raceforlife.org or call 0845 600 6050.

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