KERRY’S CHARITY NIGHT TO RAISE AWARENESS OF MOUTH CANCER

Kerry is a mouth cancer survivor.  On 9th February, after a few months of planning, Kerry invited over 230 family and friends for a pub quiz to raise awareness for mouth cancer. 

With the help of her husband Jonathan and daughter Katie, Kerry’s efforts paid off when she raised over £2500 to be shared between the Mouth Cancer Foundation and the Radiotherapy Department at Derby Royal Hospital where she received her treatment.

Kerry put a huge amount of work into creating a fun event, with great attention to detail and by turning the room blue.  There were some brilliant prizes for the pub quiz and raffle winners, a singer, chip cobs, cakes with the Mouth Cancer Foundation symbol on and lollipop flower table decorations that turned tongues blue.   Everyone was encouraged to take selfies with frames and to share their photos in a bid to raise even greater awareness.

Her is Kerry’s story in her own words…

“In June 2017 I felt a small lump in my neck, I booked an appointment with my own GP and was prescribed antibiotics.   By November I was getting increasingly concerned having this lump, which had now grown slightly.  Following various conversations and Doctor appointments I was finally referred to the Head and Neck clinic for a biopsy, PET and MRI scans.

Waiting for the results was a nightmare!

On 22nd December 2017 at the age of 43 my worst was realised.    I heard the word Cancer.  I was diagnosed with Stage 2 tongue base cancer which had spread to the lymph glands in my neck.

I have never smoked, lived healthy and do not drop into any of the ‘at risk’ groups, so this was a massive shock.

I received a radical left side neck dissection to remove lymph glands on the 11th January 2018.

On the 19th February after having a feeding peg fitted earlier in the month, I started 6 weeks of radiotherapy going every day. My husband Jonathan and my best friend Tina making sure one of them was always with me.

The radiotherapy itself was very hard.  Just wearing the mask was gruelling.  Each day the side effects started to get harder and harder.  I lost 2 stone in weight and was peg fed after a few weeks as it was just too painful to eat or swallow.   I was able to self-medicate on morphine for the pain, as it was brutal. 

Life was only a little easier thanks to the help of my amazing husband Jonathan and daughter Katie, who was only 14 at the time and who was so strong coming to hospital appointments and making sure I was always well looked after.  At this point I would also like to add that I had amazing support from friends and family though this whole journey from doing meals for Jonathan and Katie and just generally helping out.  I will always be thankful for them.

I was admitted to hospital the day before my last treatment and stayed in for few days as radiotherapy had taken everything out of me.  Ringing that bell on the last day was a blur, but I did, I had made it.  

The next two weeks where really tough.  My skin was on fire as treatment continues to work.   Over the next 3 months I was up and down, being admitted into hospital a few times with numerous things including consistently being sick.  I had hit rock bottom both physically and mentally.

But slowly and I mean very slowly I started getting there.

This is something I definitely didn’t do by myself.  The people in the NHS are amazing from Oncology to the cleaning staff - from someone trying their hardest to save my life with the latest technology and medicines to that little quiet gentle conversation at 2am with the night staff on the cancer ward.   The list is endless and I am so thankful.

I was absolutely amazed on June 22nd after a MRI scan that showed my cancer had responded well to treatment, and further to a PET scan on September 14th 2018 hearing the words, “I was in Remission”

well we were all speechless.

This is, by far, still not over.  I still have no saliva and I’m continuing with hospital appointments for Lymphatic drainage and attending the Head and Neck clinic to see the speech therapist, physio and counselling.

I continue every day to get stronger and stronger and now I want to raise awareness for this awful disease.  I don’t think any of us - myself, my family and friends knew how much Mouth Cancer takes away from you.  It is very invasive and visible and brutal.

Hopefully, what we all have learnt from this, will help us raise awareness.  This is definitely something my 15 year old daughter is aware of now and talks openly about.  This is one of the reasons for our charity night because Katie wanted people to know about Mouth Cancer”.