Anne's story

Anne’s story - Celebrations cut short, cancer treatments and coronavirus

18th June 2020

In 2018, 73-year-old Anne, an outgoing mother, grandmother and retired head teacher from Aberdeen, had been feeling unwell for quite some time. Water didn’t taste the same, she wasn’t enjoying food and no amount of sleep made her feel less exhausted. One afternoon that June, Anne’s daughter persuaded her to visit the doctors to try and get some answers.

At midnight that very same day, Anne received a call

Assuming it was a wrong number, she let it ring out. But when the phone rang again, Anne was shocked to hear from a doctor asking her to head straight in that morning and to bring an overnight bag.

Sadly, Anne couldn’t go home the next day. In fact, she wasn’t able to return home for the next four months, as she was immediately diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) - a rare and aggressive cancer that attacks red blood cells, platelets and certain white blood cells. In order to save Anne’s life, treatment had to start straight away.

Due to coronavirus, much of our fundraising has had to stop and our lifesaving research is at risk. Please support our Emergency Appeal today.

As treatment continued, Anne’s sister, who was living in Greece, made the decision to return to Scotland for Christmas. The two of them were incredibly close growing up and having her sister by her side at such a difficult time meant the world to Anne. And amazingly, they soon found out that Anne’s treatment had worked.

But their celebrations were soon cut short

Just as Anne went into remission, her sister was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Devastatingly, she quickly became more and more ill and, in May 2019, Anne’s sister sadly passed away. Then, within a matter of weeks, her own cancer returned. As Anne said, “It was a truly awful time for the whole family.”

Amazingly, almost a year later, Anne’s now in remission once again - but it feels very different this time, in a world that has been taken over by the coronavirus pandemic.

“When you have AML, you’re at high-risk for catching infections and have to be very wary at the best of times when going out and about. I had just found out I was in remission again and was able to be a little more adventurous on my daily outings when the virus broke out. I’m used to living alone, but this has been a difficult couple of months; I’ve missed seeing, hugging and socialising with my friends and family. However, I’m grateful to be feeling well and better than I have done in years.

Cancer and receiving treatment is daunting – even more so during a pandemic. I wasn’t even allowed to go for a walk around the block – how could I face a trip to the hospital?"

"I no longer have face-to-face meetings with my consultant but instead, head straight to the clinic. The scare-factor didn’t last long as within minutes I was overwhelmed with gratefulness that I was even able to proceed with my treatment. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for many of my friends with cancer. While some have had their treatments paused, one saw their conditions worsen, and has since passed away after contracting the virus. It has been a really tough time.

Yet, I remain hopeful. I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from friends, family, neighbours and strangers alike. From the concerts put on by a local band on my street to the WhatsApp group created by neighbours – the new sense of community is like nothing I’ve experienced before."

Anne's story family

Most of all, I’m hopeful for the future thanks to Worldwide Cancer Research.

"Against all odds, the charity’s not given up on its quest to find new cures for cancer. I hope and pray for a vaccine for the coronavirus as much as I hope that lifesaving cancer research across the world is given the attention it deserves.

Research has kept my family together for longer, and for that, we are eternally grateful. I wouldn’t be here right now – able to see my grandchildren grow up – if it weren’t for how far cancer research has come over the years. Even amidst a global pandemic, Worldwide Cancer Research is working to give people more time with their loved ones.”

Coronavirus means that having cancer is lonelier than ever for the estimated 2.9 million people currently diagnosed with the disease in the UK. Since lockdown many parts of our lives have stopped. Yet cancer carries on. Your kindness today can start bold new cancer research that shines a light in the darkness – and will one day stop the suffering caused by cancer. Will you support our Emergency Appeal?