A woman from Berkhamsted who has been affected by lymphatic cancer is supporting a campaign to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms.
Joanna McLaughlin, 39, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014 and has since received treatment which has cured her of the disease - but now she wants other people to be aware of the illness.
The mum of two will be supporting the Lymphoma Association’s Join Us campaign during the charity’s annual Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week, which this year runs from September 14 to 20.
The campaign will urge people to show their support for the cancer charity to raise awareness and funding for a new service.
As Joanna had non-Hodgkins, her cancer could be treated and part of that involved chemotherapy, but it took eight months for medics to diagnose her condition before that took place. Lymphoma can be treatable but can also be a permanent condition.
She had suffered massive night sweats and itching, which are classic symptoms, and she urges other people to speak up when they realise they may be ill.
Joanna, who is married with two daughters aged six and two, said: “If you feel something is not right you must do something about it. Many doctors said I was fine and it’s not their fault, but people must trust there own instincts, as in my case it was life or death if I had not.”
As the UK’s fifth most common cancer, and the most common cancer in the under 30s, more than 14,000 people are newly diagnosed with lymphoma every year. Around 100,000 people in the UK are currently living with the disease.
The campaign aims to raise awareness and encourage people to sign up to support the Lymphoma Association’s new well-being programme, Live your life – living with and beyond lymphoma - a series of online, print and educational services that have been designed to help people at a time when they might feel isolated, neglected and finding it hard to move on with their lives.
Social media users are also encouraged to get involved in the lead up to, and during, the week by following, and using the hashtag #LymphomaAware. The Join Us campaign will launch on Monday, September 14 on the www.lymphomas.org.uk/joinus webpage.
There are many types of lymphoma. Some grow quickly and are called ‘aggressive’. Treatment for these types normally starts soon after test results are back and aims to cure the lymphoma. Others grow slowly and behave like a chronic condition, flaring up from time to time.
Treatment might not be needed straightaway and aims to control the lymphoma for a time rather than cure it. People can live with ‘chronic’ lymphoma for a long time.
Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of the Lymphoma Association, said: “Because of the nature of lymphatic cancers, patients will often have a unique set of challenges to face and will turn to organisations like us for the on-going support they need and are not able to receive from mainstream cancer services.
“We hope that more people will Join Us and get involved with our campaign during the awareness week so that we can offer these much-needed services to people affected by lymphoma across the UK.
“Every year, our awareness week gets bigger and better. We hope to make this year’s the best yet and make a real difference in the lives of people affected by lymphoma.”
The annual event also aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of lymphoma, the UK’s most common type of blood cancer, through supporter-led awareness and fundraising events taking place across the country.
For more information on how to fundraise or host an awareness event in your area, visit www.lymphomas.org.uk/lcaw