Leanne Cann says she ‘should not be here’.
To anyone watching she’s a typical 32-year-old mum from Mansfield, enjoying spending time with her family.
But Leanne has terminal breast cancer.
Today (Thursday April 7 2016) she is one of a group of women helping to promote The University of Nottingham’s Breast Cancer Research fundraising campaign.
The campaign, #BreastCancerAndMe, has a £1 million fundraising target and to help achieve this the University is asking as many people as possible to join in fundraising activity- holding bake sales, charity events, sponsored walks, and bike rides.
One of the flagship fundraising events is Life Cycle 6, a 1,400 sponsored bike ride led by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Greenaway, and a team of 12 riders.
Members of the public can sponsor the team, follow their progress, and/or challenge themselves to take part in a Community Bike Ride in September.
All funds raised in the campaign will go directly into our laboratories to support world-leading breast cancer research at our centres in Nottingham and Derby.
Professors at the University, which has a long standing pedigree in breast cancer research, are working on innovative research to detect breast cancer early, stop it spreading and to develop targeted treatments that will help save lives.
Research includes developing the world’s first blood test to detect breast cancer early, stopping cancer from spreading around the body and developing targeted treatments - for both hormone sensitive cancers and triple negative breast cancer.
Leanne Cann, Sue Stannard and Lisa Johnson, know the value of this work having been treated in Nottingham. They have come together with others to create a video urging people to donate to the campaign.
Leanne was 28-years-old with a new baby when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
From finding a lump in her breast when she was showering to having biopsies, scans and operations, it was a long road to any form of recovery.
She said: “I had to have a number of operations to remove lumps and tumours that kept growing back. I had a mastectomy but while I was recovering another tumour grew through.
“I had so many operations on my chest that my arm is now damaged from it. But they couldn’t keep operating as the tumours grew. I was told my cancer was terminal.”
But that was three-years-ago and due to the treatment Leanne received the cancer growth has now stabilised.
“It’ll never go away”, says Leanne. “I’ll never know when it will come back until it starts growing again.
“I sometimes think I shouldn’t be here – without the treatment I had the cancer wouldn’t be dormant. Having triple negative cancer means it’s not caused by hormones like some cancers so there are fewer options for treatment.
“I’ve had a lot of time to get used to it. I concentrate on spending time with my family and helping to raise awareness and money to fund future research – to help save people like me.”
For Sue Stannard, from Caythorpe, the date January 4 2011 is one that is etched on her brain for all the wrong reasons.
She was 57-years-old and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
She said: “I’d had a mammogram a few months before and that had been clear but I noticed a thickening around my breast. Tests showed it was cancerous.”
A course of chemotherapy soon followed along with a mastectomy (her right breast was donated to The University of Nottingham’s Tissue Bank), radiotherapy, Herceptin treatment before reconstruction work and long term hormone treatment.
Her life changed drastically but she has found comfort in helping to raise funds for research ever since.
She said: “In a strange way my experience has given me a new lease of life. I’ve done things I’d never done before – I’ve given speeches on breast cancer, I’ve been in magazines and done radio interviews and I enjoy doing that. I make the most of life and try to take every opportunity that comes along.
“I know that I have really benefitted from research and developments into breast cancer. If this had happened to me 15-years-ago I don’t think I’d be here now.
“I’m passionate about ensuring there is money for research – especially for secondary cancer. If we can stop people dying in the future then we must do everything we can.”
When Lisa Johnson’s dog started acting strangely around her she thought something was wrong.
“The only time she had ever been like that was when I was pregnant, and I knew I wasn’t pregnant. I checked my boobs and I found a lump”, she said.
That was just last year and the 37-year-old from Nuthall has endured chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive work since and is still waiting on further operations.
She is encouraging people to get behind the #BreastCancerAndMe campaign and support vital research.
The mum of three said: “I don’t want other women and other families to go through this – I feel as if this is my way of contributing to their futures too.”
The University of Nottingham’s Vice Chancellor has taken part in Life Cycle -an annual sponsored bike ride - since 2011 when he cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for palliative and end of life care.
This year he and a team of 12 riders will tackle the four compass points of mainland Britain and all funds raised will go to the #BreastCancerandMe campaign.
John Robertson, a world renowned breast cancer specialist and Professor of Surgery in the School of Medicine, will be taking part in the ride this year.
He said: “Every day in the UK 140 women like Leanne, Sue and Lisa, are told they have breast cancer.
“That number is too high and, at The University of Nottingham, we know we can change that.
“Our innovative research is already making a difference and we hope that the research on early detection of this disease and the treatments we are working to develop will be able to save lives.
“For those who aren’t scientists or doctors there is another way to help. I’m proud that for Life Cycle 6, the funds we raise will be going towards #BreastCancerAndMe.
“We’re also asking you to get involved too, either by joining in with our Community bike ride or by raising funds in another way. There are lots of ideas on our website. Please join us and help us beat breast cancer.”
— Ends —
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China andMalaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK amonggraduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…
Liz Webster - Head of Media Relations
Phone: +44 (0)115 748 4734
Location: University Park
Posted on Monday 11th April 2016