A fit and sporty mum-of-two was stunned to be diagnosed with stage three cancer, after complaining about acid reflux to her doctor. Michelle Staveley, 52, had previously experienced similar symptoms when she was pregnant. When the acid reflux suddenly returned, she thought she might be suffering from stomach ulcers.
But within four weeks, Michelle, from Cliviger near Burnley, went under the knife to have her kidney removed by two specialist surgeons, after her cancer was diagnosed.
The 52-year-old made repeated visits to her GP, after suffering from constant acid problems, no matter what she ate. Her doctor eventually sent her for a gastroscopy, which found evidence of stomach ulcers.
Despite treatment, the ulcers stubbornly persisted, causing concern among medical staff. Following a CT scan, she was finally diagnosed with stage three renal cell carcinoma.
Michelle, a keen cyclist and walker, said she was knocked for six on learning of her illness.
She told Lancashire Live: “It was traumatic for all of us. No-one had cancer in the family before.
“I went in with ulcers and came out being told ‘you’ve got a 10cm tumor and your kidney’s coming out’.” Surgeons removed her left kidney and a 10cm tumor during a six-hour operation at Royal Blackburn Hospital.
She was supposed to undergo a course of immunotherapy at Rosemere Cancer Foundation in Preston, as part of her recovery program.
However, Michelle was then diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and was advised by doctors to forgo the planned treatment, due to the impact it could have on her bowels. She now has regular scans to check that the cancer has not returned and remains in remission.
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The mum-of-two has resumed her sporty lifestyle and is determined to be an inspiration to others.
She completed the Tough Mudder in London just six months after her lifesaving surgery, raising £1,660 for Cancer Research in the process.
She is now planning to take part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life in June. Michelle explained: “I don’t know anyone with kidney cancer, but I want to show people that, like me, they can get through this.
“At Race For Life I am going to wear my back sign saying that I’m in remission and I want people to ask me about my journey.
“We all have a reason to Race for Life. For me it will be a chance to say thank you and to raise money to help others facing cancer right now.”
Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in the North West, Jemma Humphreys, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Michelle for her support.
“We’d love for as many people as possible across Lancashire to join us during our 30th year of Race for Life.
“Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way. Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honor of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, or signing up to protect their own children’s future, everyone has a reason to Race for Life.
“Together we can bring about a future free from the fear of cancer. So we’re asking people across the region: Who will you race for?
“Our Race for Life events are open to all. For some people, Race for Life is literally a walk in the park. Slow and steady still wins. For others, it’s a jog.
“Others may opt to push themselves harder, taking up the challenge of the 10K distance. But what’s for certain is we’re looking forward to welcoming people of all ages and abilities.”