A YOUNG woman from Carmarthenshire who found out she had bowel cancer after trying to give blood is backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign for World Cancer Day.
Following successful treatment, 28-year-old Kelly Jordan is now urging everyone to join her by wearing the charity’s Unity Band on February 4.
The campaign is close to Kelly’s heart as her father was also successfully treated for bowel cancer when he was 29.
Kelly didn’t realise anything was wrong until she tried giving blood at Carmarthenshire Library in February 2017.
She said: “I was told I couldn’t give blood as my iron levels were too low and I was advised to get it checked with my GP.”
Kelly went to see a GP who diagnosed her with anaemia. After discussing her father’s diagnosis at a later appointment, she was referred immediately for further tests which revealed she had stage 3 bowel cancer.
“Had I not tried giving blood that day, I may not have known anything was wrong and my diagnosis could have taken a lot longer,” said Kelly.
“My diagnosis was very quick, just over two weeks from my first referral. I had a 5cm tumour which had spread to two of my lymph nodes.
“When I was told, it was completely surreal. I was in shock for the first few days.
“The support of my family and friends helped me endlessly.”
Kelly had surgery and then seven rounds of chemotherapy over the course of five months.
“I just wanted to get on with the treatment to get life back to normal as soon as possible,” said Kelly.
Kelly finished her last session of chemotherapy in March 2018 and is now cancer free.
Thanks to progress in cancer research, Kelly has returned to enjoying her outdoor hobbies and spending time with her husband, Rhys, at their home in Ferryside.
Kelly said: “Six months after finishing treatment, I cycled from Nice to Rome with my husband and friends. It was a fantastic experience and really helped me feel like myself and just enjoy my life again.
“I have always been someone with ambitions. Having cancer has reiterated how precious time is. You have to do things now, don’t wait – live life to the full.”
Kelly’s story doesn’t end there as she has since been diagnosed with a faulty cancer gene called Lynch Syndrome. People who have Lynch syndrome (also known as HNPCC) have inherited a faulty version of a gene, which increases their chances of developing certain cancers including bowel cancer and womb cancer.
She said: “Because of how young I was when I was diagnosed, my GP suggested genetic screening. Having Lynch syndrome means I have an increased chance of developing certain types of cancer. I am tested more regularly as a result.”
Every day, around 52 people are diagnosed with cancer in Wales.*
By making a donation for a Unity Band, people across Wales will be raising money for life-saving research which will help give people, like Kelly, more precious time doing the things they love.
The Unity Band is available in three different colours – pink, navy and blue. It can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment. That includes helping to raise vital awareness and funds.
Kelly said: “That’s why I want everyone in Wales to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day – it’s a fantastic opportunity to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work. Just by wearing a Unity Band, everyone can help make a real difference to people with cancer.”
She added: “I’d also like to say a massive thank you to the Welsh Blood Service and the wonderful NHS.”
Marked on February 4, World Cancer Day is designed to raise awareness of cancer and to promote its prevention, detection and treatment.
One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime.
The good news is, thanks to research, more people are surviving than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
But the charity needs everyone to act right now to help speed up life-saving advances.
Ruth Amies, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, said:
“We are very grateful to Kelly for her support and showing how important it is for everyone to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day. It is a powerful accessory in the fight against the disease.
“We’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. But we can’t do it alone.
“By making a donation of just £2, people in Wales will be able to help fund world-class cancer research to help more people, like Kelly, survive. Together, we will beat cancer.”
Unity Bands are available in all Cancer Research UK shops across Wales