A young woman who spent more than a decade undergoing cancer treatment is celebrating after being told she is in remission.
Heather Parkinson, 31, who lives in Leyland, has finally been treatment-free for 12 months after spending more than 10 years undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
And now she is even happier, as doctors have told her she is now in remission from her cancer.
Heather said: “It is the best news I could have hoped for and I am ecstatic about it.
“The doctor has told me it is remission with a small ‘r’ rather than a capital one, but he is cautiously optimistic.
“For me, it is wonderful news – especially at this time of year – and me and my family are all delighted.”
Heather was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of just 19 when she started suffering from a cough which would not go away.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy managed to beat the disease – only for it to return two years later.
Heather’s plight hit the headlines after health chiefs refused to fund a trial treatment run by London’s Royal Free Hospital, which specialists believed was the best chance to help Heather.
Generous readers of the Guardian’s sister newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Post, rallied round and helped raise the £16,000 needed to pay for the trial.
The trial treatment managed to reduce Heather’s tumours drastically enough for her to undergo a stem cell transplant for which her sister Shelley was the donor.
However, after seven months, Heather was dealt a huge blow after a scan revealed new tumours in her chest. But she began a new targeted chemotherapy with a newly licensed drug.
Heather, who owns a pet shop in Kirkham, says that although she still has cancer in her body, it has remained unchanged for the last year and specialists are happy with the way things are going.
Heather said: “The cancer has not gone. It is still in my sternum.
“But it has not done anything for 12 months which is really good and now doctors say I am in remission.
“I have to go back to hospital for check-ups, but the doctors are happy with the way things are going.
“I am also happy with the way things are and am determined to stay upbeat and positive.
“When you are used to having treatment so much, it is wonderful to finally be treatment-free.
“My hair has actually had a chance to grow!
“I am a very positive person anyway, but being told I am in remission has given me an extra bit of hope.”