A two-time cancer survivor from Leicestershire is sharing her inspirational story to encourage people to seek medical help if they notice unexplained changes to their body.
Elaine Morton stars in a new video by NHS East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group ahead of World Cancer Day on Sunday 4 February.
Elaine experienced ovarian cancer as a teenager and was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early thirties, but found it difficult to come forward and seek help on both occasions.
In the video, Elaine says: “Don’t hide it like I did the first time. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I know I still struggle with certain parts of my body. If you can’t say it in words, write it down… find someone to go with you… find a way so that you can get the help that you need. Sitting on cancer is not a safe option.”
Now fully recovered after undergoing treatment at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, Elaine has an inspirational message to people going through similar circumstances.
“Lots of people are probably frightened of the treatment, but as you can see, you can get through two bouts of chemo (therapy), ten cycles, and neutropenic sepsis, and still be here.”
Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor as possible early signs of cancer include: a lump that suddenly appears on your body, unexplained bleeding, and changes to your bowel habits.
Dr Vivek Varakantam, GP Cancer Lead at East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We urge anyone who notices anything unusual about their body or anything that doesn’t go away to see their doctor to have it assessed. We know that treatment is more likely to be successful the earlier cancer is detected, so it’s better to get it checked out as soon as possible.”
Taking part in the NHS cancer screening programmes saves thousands of lives each year. Patients are invited to take part when they receive a letter.
Elaine is now encouraging people to come forward after her experience of cancer treatment was so positive: “I had a lot of support from the hospital and they were really brilliant, but friends from church and from work also stepped up and were really supportive.
“I had friends who would take me to hospital, sit with me while I had chemo (therapy), visited me in hospital, gave me lifts; did so much for me. It actually made me feel loved and wanted.”
More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.