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Raising awareness in fight against cancer
A MOTHER of two who survived a rare liver cancer is to feature in a national advert she hopes will inspire people to raise cash to help beat the disease.
Alison Stone, 43, who lives in Stonhouse Crescent, Radley, near Abingdon was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma when she was just 32.
A very rare type of liver cancer, it is usually seen in younger people and it is estimated that there are only about a dozen cases each year in the UK.
Doctors initially thought Mrs Stone was suffering from gallstones when she complained of a pain in her back, and referred her for tests.
But the pain became so acute she was rushed into hospital where doctors found a tumour the size of a small rugby ball in her liver.
The cancer turned out to be so rare, no specialists at the time had come across it.
At the suggestion of her sister in law, who is a nurse, Mrs Stone sought advice from a transplant surgeon at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, who recommended aggressive surgery to remove the tumour.
She said: “I was originally told there was nothing that could be done for me, but I put my trust in the surgeon at Addenbrookes and he has not let me down.
“I feel fortunate to have been treated as others have not been so lucky. I am quite a private person, but I want to raise awareness about this rare cancer.
“It is normally younger people who are diagnosed and it is heartbreaking to hear of those who have not survived.”
When the cancer came back five years later, the same surgeon was able to perform a second successful operation.
Because the cancer is so rare there are not enough people in one area or even one country to undertake clinical trials investigating new treatments.
Apart from regular check-ups Mrs Stone, who with her husband Adrian has two daughters Kayleigh, 23, and Lauren, 19, now lives a relatively normal life, apart from suffering constant pain caused by nerve damage during surgery.
Now she will appear in Cancer Research UK’s national campaign to inspire people to raise money for life-saving research.
The advert sees the Cancer Research UK support worker join other survivors to form the letter C, with the tag line ‘United we’re stronger than cancer’.
Mrs Stone said she hoped the advert would inspire others to help the charity. She said: “I appreciate scientists need patients to carry out research and this cancer is so rare that has not been possible previously, although it is hoped they will in future.
“I know I could have a recurrence at any time, but I have a very positive outlook on life and if it comes back I will again put my trust in the experts.
“It is my chance to raise awareness of all the amazing work the charity does and the treatment they make possible to help people like me.”