Lancashire mums fighting a double battle against cancer and the threat of Coronavirus

The Coronavirus pandemic means some patients needing treatment to fight cancer may be told their treatment is on hold. FIONA FINCH reports on how two local mums have coped - treatment is going ahead for one and on hold for the other.

A Longridge mother has spoken of her gratitude that her cancer treatment is going ahead - despite the Coronavirus crisis.

Debs Faraday’s world was turned upside down in March last year when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, just two weeks before her 50th birthday..

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After treatment the mother of three was given the all clear last October, but by December she knew something was seriously wrong and was back seeing the medics.

Debs (right) and Hope Faraday

She said: “My cancer is back, basically everywhere between my hips. Hopefully I’m having nine weeks of chemotherapy which I’ve already started, then an operation. Provided the chemo controls it and it’s not spread outside my pelvis they’ll do an operation to remove everything. That will be a big challenge - at least it will mean I will be alive.”

Debs was receiving treatment at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, but her care has been transferred to Burnley hospital because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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She and her children, Hope, 16, Verity,15 and Iris, seven, have moved in with her parents Mavis and Melvyn in Burnley, which has relieved pressure on Debs who said: “Life was hard enough being a single mum of three. We’ve moved to my mum and dad’s which is really lovely and I just feel so calm and relaxed and happy.”

She continued: “My treatment is going ahead which is brilliant. They stopped it at Blackburn because they needed beds for Coronavirus.”

Roisin with Ivy and Michael

Debs, a teaching assistant at Barnacre Road Primary School, said she has been grateful for the way friends back in Longridge have supported her with texts and Facebook messages.

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Other than attending chemo sessions she has been advised not to go out and said: “Basically if I get Coronavirus it’s game over, which is frightening stuff. Even going to the hospital I’m scared. Having cancer is bad enough, but having cancer in this period of time is even worse.”

Nor is it the family’s first battle with cancer. Hope, a student at the Northern Ballet School, was diagnosed with a Wilms’ Tumour when she was two and had to have a kidney removed and chemotherapy.

The surgery Debs hopes for is known as a pelvic exenteration procedure and although it is a daunting prospect she said: “It will give me the chance of life.

She believes it must be “devastating” for those whose treatment has been put on hold.

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Columnist Roisin Pelan from Lea, is one such patient. She recently shared with Post readers her devastation at being told her cancer treatment must stop for 12 weeks because of Coronavirus. She said: “I am extremely high risk because of the chemo that I’m on (Palbociclib). If I were to contract Covid-19, it’s very likely that I would die...I was told that if I were to become ill, there’s a high chance there would be no beds available due to years of cuts and this massive epidemic. The idea that I now have to go 12 weeks (hopefully no more) without my chemotherapy is unbearable. The chemo is aimed at stopping any cancer coming back. I know, mentally, this is going to be such a struggle for me and so I just have to carry on with all my supplements etc. and try to stay active in the garden.”

Roisin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 when she was 34 weeks pregnant with her first child, Ivy. Cancer returned in 2018 and she expects to be on a "mild dose" of chemotherapy for the rest of her life.

Roisin, her partner Michael and daughter Ivy are all determined to make the most of the extra time they have together. She said: “In these difficult times, we absolutely have to look for the silver linings...We’re also finding it quite therapeutic to slow down our pace a bit and just enjoy having conversations again, no need to keep adding to or checking our calendar to see what plans we have or how little spare time we have.”