Amanda was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and has been a media volunteer with Cancer Research UK for more than five years. In that time she's supported us by being involved in the Annual Review, with media requests and was one of the stars of our Legacy campaign film.
Amanda had experienced stomach pain, fatigue, weight loss, nausea and a general feeling of being unwell, and eventually had a colonoscopy in 2012 to investigate the lining of her large intestine five months after she first saw her GP. It showed there was a cancerous tumour in her colon. “I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer,” Amanda remembers. “My instant response was: how do I tell my children?”
Amanda didn’t tell them she was unwell until she was due to start chemotherapy, but they took it really well. She also relied heavily on her husband to tell the rest of their family as she struggled to find the words. “I learned I need people around me to lean on and I’m so lucky to have the most wonderful friends and family who rallied round during my time of need,” says Amanda. “It did change my relationships with some people: I don’t think they knew how to behave, which was hurtful. But I realise it was their way of dealing with it.”
Amanda had surgery to remove the right side of her colon, followed by chemotherapy. In the hope of helping the next generation, she also enrolled on a clinical trial for people with bowel cancer that was testing whether 12 weeks of chemotherapy after surgery is as good as 24 weeks. The results of the trial, which were published in 2018, found that shortening treatment reduced side effects and did not affect the chance of cancer coming back for many people. As a result, 12 weeks has now been recommended as the new standard of care.
Since then, Amanda has lived for the moment: “I embrace every opportunity with both hands and have accomplished more following diagnosis than I ever have done before. The past few years have been a rollercoaster, but I chose to buckle up, enjoy the ride and be thankful for every day that passes. I have learnt to accept that my cancer may be part of me, but it does not define me and I am still the master of my own destiny.”
She adds: “Without research, I wouldn’t be here. It saves lives and it’s allowing me to watch my children grow up. So thank you to everyone who supports Cancer Research UK.”
Amanda, 47, lives in Essex with her husband Ahmet and their two children, Aaliyah and Summer.
To see the Legacy film in which Amanda was involved see below