Five-time cancer survivor explains how to detect cancer early
- Credit: Archant
“Cancer can happen to anyone, if you do have symptoms which are unusual get them checked.”
A mother-of-three who has survived cancer five times in fifty years wants to educate others about the importance of spotting cancer signs early.
Former vet Jenny Sheriff, 60, was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer, when she was 19 while studying to be a vet in Edinburgh.
With radiotherapy Jenny was able to beat the disease but the ‘massive dose of radiation’ was to have consequences, four subsequent cancer diagnoses have been attributed to the radiotherapy.
“I don’t want to scare people about radiotherapy because these days the treatment is much more sophisticated,” said Jenny.
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“When I received the treatment it was like a sledgehammer, it is much more targeted now and lower doses are used. If I hadn’t had the radiotherapy I wouldn’t be here now.”
In 1997, 20 years after her first diagnosis, Jenny was found to have breast cancer but thanks to her previous experiences with the disease she spotted it early and was able to get the treatment she needed.
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A third breast cancer diagnosis came in 2007, then again in 2014 and her last diagnosis was in 2018.
Despite her repeated struggles, with cancer Jenny has spent her time working with animals, she now owns a cattery and kennels with her husband Duncan, and raising money for Cancer Research.
“I hope talking about it raises awareness and I hope my personal experiences provide some context and helps people pay attention to any symptoms they may be worried about,” said Jenny.
“Early detection is one of the things which has kept me here, it’s about being vigilant, detecting the signs early and getting to the doctor when you need to.
“Cancer can happen to anyone, if you do have symptoms which are unusual get them checked.
She added: “I have had lots of operations, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and the service I have received from the NHS has been great. I’m a big fan.”
In 2000 Jenny took part in a sponsored walk along the Great Wall of China, raising around £7,000 for the charity.
She’s also taken part in Race For Life twice and is currently doing a walking challenge, an impressive feat for a woman suffering with breathlessness and fatigue.
Jenny’s parents were from Devon but she grew up in Sussex and Edinburgh. She moved to Somerset in 1982 and in 1986 relocated to the Woodbury Salterton area.
To find out more about Jenny’s walking challenge and to help her fundraise visit https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/jennys-giving-page-167.