An inspirational mum who has battled two forms of cancer and who had a 2lb tumour removed from her chest 18 months ago has teamed up with her daughter to launch World Cancer Day in the East Midlands region.
Dannii Donovan (35) and her eight-year-old daughter, Olivia White, are urging men, women and children to buy a Cancer Research UK ‘unity band’ and wear it with pride for World Cancer Day on Wednesday (February 4).
Dannii, of Waltham-on-the-Wolds, was initially diagnosed with thymoma and underwent two cycles of intense chemotherapy to shrink a tumour. The tumour, which had been shrunk to the size of a satsuma, was removed during a five-and-a-half operation at Glenfield Hospital in June 2013.
But following that she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, requiring her to undergo further chemotherapy treatment.
She said: “I’m so grateful for the treatment that saved my life. Now I want to do everything I can to urge people to fight back against this devastating disease.
“When my hair began to fall out I did get quite angry and think ‘why me?’ but thanks to research and treatment, I’m still here. That’s why I’m backing Cancer Research UK and encouraging everyone to get a unity band now.”
Dannii, whose parents live in Melton, began to feel discomfort in her chest in early 2013 but put it down to work stress as she was studying to be a social worker and working full-time as a family support worker at Rainbows Children’s Hospice.
She said: “It was hard to pinpoint. I put it down to heartburn and indigestion caused by stress but the doctor wasn’t happy so he sent me for an MOT with lots of scans.
“Cancer was the last thing on my mind and I remember thinking ‘I don’t have time for this’. It didn’t really hit me until I began treatment and my hair starting falling out. That was horrendous but I was determined I wasn’t going to let it beat me.
“My family and friends really helped me through it. Now I’m back at work and enjoying playing netball (with Melton Mowbray Netball Club) and running again.”
Dannii, who is also associated with Melton Mencap and Melton children’s charity The Romy Fund, has always taken part in the Race for Life over the last 14 years or so.
In 2013 she took part with a group of friends and family including her daughter, Olivia, friends Grace West, of Gracie’s Sandwich Bar in Market Place, Melton, and Jo Toon, who works at Harlequin Health and Beauty Clinic in Burton Street. The group raised thousands of pounds, with Dannii and others running in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Olivia has supported Dannii throughout her cancer battle, taking everything in her stride with her mum’s illness and looking after her. Her amazing support for her mum was acknowledged in 2013 when she was named a joint winner of the Child of Courage award as part of the Melton Times’ 2013 Community Awards.
Villagers in Waltham have also been inspired by Dannii and her cancer battle, rallying around to help her raise funds.
Dannii got involved in supporting World Cancer Day after submitting her story via the Cancer Research UK website.
She’s urging people to buy a Cancer Research UK ‘unity band’ and wear it with pride on Wednesday which is World Cancer Day. The day is being marked to raise awareness of cancer and to promote its prevention, detection, and treatment. Money raised from the sale of the bands will help Cancer Research UK scientists beat cancer sooner.
The wrist band is made of two parts which form a knot to represent strength in unity. They’re available in a range of colours from all Cancer Research UK shops - including the one in South Parade, Melton - for a suggested donation of £2.
Dannii said: “It’s also about raising awareness and people knowing that anyone can be affected by cancer. An individual doesn’t get cancer, a family get cancer, and we need to stand together to beat it.”
Paula Young, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the East Midlands, said: “We hope people of all ages across the region will pick up a unity band or make a small donation to Cancer Research UK on World Cancer Day. A small gesture like this can make a truly big difference and help ensure more families like Dannii’s stay together for longer.”
To make a donation or to find out more visit www.cruk.org/worldcancerday