Help Jane’s Cancer Research Campaign
Jane and Steven Holmes, who live at Ffarmers near Lampeter, remind us that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
A very fit marathon runner, Jane was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014 when she was 43 – a shock, because she did not have any symptoms. She happened to have an x-ray for another reason, and it revealed a shadow in the right upper lobe.
Jane was given the awful news that her cancer was too advanced for an operation, but she and Steven, who is also a long-distance runner, were not ready to give up, despite the Stage 3b Adenocarcinoma which had spread to two nodes in her neck. Four cycles of chemotherapy at West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen, were followed by six weeks of radical radiotherapy at Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre. In June 2015, a year after the shock diagnosis, the upper right lobe and some lymph nodes were surgically removed.
Five weeks later Jane – recipient of the 2015 Inspiration Award from the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation — ran a five kilometre charity race.
“Our experience of the NHS was excellent,” said Steven. “The facilities are there, the staff are second to none and the system does work.” Yet Steven realises that not all cancer sufferers have the resources or energy to push for and find the best treatment. “Luckily we were able to self-fund scans,” he said. “Jane spent a lot of time following NHS paper chains and finding the right treatment or specialist.”
Wales is not exactly top of the league for treating lung cancer, which is the biggest cancer killer in the country, accounting for almost 2,000 deaths a year. “Historically, only one in 15 of people with lung cancer in Wales are alive five years after diagnosis,” said Dr Ian Williamson, consultant respiratory physician and Assistant Medical Director for Cancer Services with the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, speaking for the UK Lung Cancer Coalition. “Despite concerted efforts by the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to tackle inequalities and improve outcomes, five-year survival rates in Wales still lag behind our European counterparts and compare very poorly with other major common cancer types.”
There is sometimes a feeling that lung cancer sufferers are at least partly responsible for their illness because they have smoked – but according to the NHS, one person in every eight with the disease has never smoked.
So far, Jane and Steven have raised over £17,300 for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
And last month Jane, free of cancer, completed the demanding 26.2-mile Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri, climbing to over 1,200 feet, in 5 hours 28 minutes and 51 seconds.
She will continue to raise money for cancer research, and has a Just Giving page, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JaneHolmes-rclcf