Melton cancer patient Mandie Stace is fronting a moving national campaign over the Christmas and New Year period urging people to get themselves checked immediately if they suspect they may have the disease.
A poignant television advert will be broadcast from Boxing Day featuring the 36-year-old mum’s touching friendship with fellow sufferer Jude Price including scenes shot on a hospital bed at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI).
Viewers will see the duo sharing a laugh about their hair falling out during chemotherapy treatment.
In one scene, Jude points out she ‘needs a comb-over’ prompting Mandie to reply that ‘there’s not enough for a comb-over, dear - sorry’. The friends then collapse in giggles.
The advert is part of Cancer Research UK’s powerful and emotive ‘Right Now’ campaign, which also features billboard poster and radio promotions and aims to show the reality of cancer for patients, their friends and family.
Mandie, who is now in remission after being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma at the LRI, said: “I’m really proud to appear in the campaign.
“The advert captures a little moment from my cancer experience. I hope it will move people and make them smile, as well as inspiring them to take action to help fund vital research.”
Mandie, who works alongside husband Greg in the family business, Stace Roofing, has two children and two step-children.
She had ignored pain in her shoulder since last Christmas but assumed it was a trapped nerve.
Then in the spring, after a weight training session, Mandie energed from the shower to notice her arm and neck were very swollen.
She visited Melton Hospital’s drop-in centre and staff there sent her to the LRI for scans, fearing she may have deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
“The first notion I got that it was something serious was when a doctor came up and sat very gravely by my bed,” recalled Mandie.
He revealed there was a blood clot in her neck, but it had been caused by lymph nodes swelling and squeezing the veins. Further scans and biopsies led to Mandie being given the devastating news that she had Hodgkin lymphoma. It had spread to her chest, neck and lung and she would need immediate treatment.
She was put on an aggressive chemotherapy drug and that led to rapid hair loss.
“I couldn’t hide it from the kids,” said Mandie. “Their first reaction when we told them I had cancer was that I was going to die. We reassured them that wasn’t going to happen, so it was really important to me to try and be normal for them.”
She met Jude while they were in adjoining beds: “Jude started having a really bad reaction to her treatment. “We had barely spoken up until then, but she was suffering so much I just stayed up all night talking to her. “We just clicked. It was as if we had known each other for years. We laughed together and talked about our families and about our illness and treatment. We do a lot of laughing.”
The pair have remained firm friends, even though Mandie’s treatment is over and Jude continues to be treated.
Mandie is looking forward to a quiet Christmas with her family: “I can’t wait to see the back of 2016. It’s been a harrowing year. I’m looking forward to putting it in a box and kissing it goodbye. I don’t think my cancer will come back. I’m cured, and I’m ready now for 2017.”
Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Leicestershire, said: “We’re so grateful to Mandie and Jude for sharing their story.
“Our campaign aims to shine a light on the men, women and children facing cancer every day as well as the doctors, specialists, nurses and support staff who provide invaluable treatment, care and support.
“Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists are working hard to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. We hope these films will inspire people to take action, right now, and play their part in helping to beat cancer sooner.”
Go online at www.cruk.org to find out more about beating cancer sooner.