With fundraising down, Laura Hunter has vowed to help the charity continue its vital mission.
The 30-year-old, from Tenbury Wells, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at the age of only 24.
And her second diagnosis – another separate breast cancer – came in August this year at the age of 29.
An additional crisis hit Laura when she was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour in 2017.
Although not believed to be cancerous, the tumour is being monitored and she may need surgery when her breast cancer treatment is complete.
The young NHS worker believes she is alive today thanks in part to the work of Cancer Research UK, after being given drugs the charity helped to develop as part of her treatment.
"My experience means I understand the importance of Cancer Research UK’s work all too clearly," said Laura.
“It’s thanks in part to Cancer Research UK’s work that I’m still here to celebrate Christmas this year with my boyfriend and family.
"If I had been diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, the outcome might not have been the same for me – and that’s down to research."
So now, she’s determined to help protect people with cancer from the heartbreaking fall-out of the pandemic.
Cancer Research UK is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income this year, which is putting future breakthroughs at risk for people like Laura.
The charity has already had to make the difficult decision to cut £44 million in research, but this is likely to be just the beginning.
Laura, who has become an active campaigner in raising awareness about breast cancer in younger women, is urging people in Shropshire and Worcestershire to act now in the run up to Christmas to help keep research on track.
Laura was first diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2015 when she was just 24 years old after noticing a lump in her right breast.
After undergoing fertility preservation surgery, she had a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiotherapy.
Chemotherapy was a particularly difficult time for Laura, who experienced all kinds of complications including a reactivation of chicken pox, repeated admissions with neutropenic sepsis, a pulmonary embolism and multiple blood transfusions.
She also lost all her hair and now suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Following the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Laura received Herceptin for 18 months and was put on Tamoxifen for 10 years – two drugs which Cancer Research UK helped to develop.
Then, in 2017, she started to suffer from visual problems and was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour.
Although the tumour was slow-growing and not malignant, she has been told she may need surgery in the future.
In August this year Laura received the devastating news that she had breast cancer for a second time.
Although the tumour is in the same breast and is the same type of cancer, it is a new primary cancer and not a recurrence of the original one.
“It was very difficult to get that news all over again, just when I’d been hoping to get my life and my career back on track,” said Laura.
“I had been hoping to continue to save to complete a postgraduate course, which is something I’ve always wanted to do since graduating, but I’ve had to put my plans on hold all over again.”
She says going through treatment during a pandemic has been a very lonely experience, with key appointments and chemotherapy often taking place alone.
Laura’s treatment will consist of at least 16 cycles of aggressive chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and more radiotherapy.
She will then continue treatment with Herceptin and endocrine therapy, Zoladex, for several years.
Despite her lengthy ordeal, Laura says she feels positive about the future and is determined to continue to raise awareness of the importance of research.
She said: “It upsets me to think that progress that could help more people survive cancer in the future is being delayed because of the effects of the pandemic.
"I hope that people across the region will be inspired by the charity’s determination to carry on beating cancer and give what they can. They could give hope to families like mine and that’s what Christmas is all about.”
Cancer Research UK’s work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has been at the heart of the progress that has seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.
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