Cheshire mum with incurable bowel cancer calls for kickstart to fund research

Video report by Rob Smith.

A mum from Cheshire with incurable bowel cancer is calling on people to help tackle a £160m funding gap for cancer research, said to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Former XFM and Key 103 radio presenter, Michelle Mullane, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in June last year after being rushed to hospital with severe stomach pains.

She is now part of a campaign to help Cancer Research UK continue its mission as it launches an urgent appeal for donations to help get life-saving work back on track.

Michelle, 50, said: “I never in a million years thought I’d have cancer – it was the furthest thing from my mind. Looking back now, I’d been feeling unusually tired and experiencing some cramping for a few months, but I put that down to living a busy life.

“Then one night I was throwing up for hours and experiencing the most excruciating pain in my stomach. The pain was worse than anything I’d ever experienced, even worse than childbirth.

“It got to midnight and I called an ambulance. I couldn’t stand up and to be honest I would have gone to hospital naked, I was beyond caring at that point.”

Former XFM and Key 103 radio presenter, Michelle Mullane. Credit: Family handout

Michelle was rushed to Macclesfield Hospital where doctors discovered a life-threatening obstruction on her bowel.

“The room filled up with people and that’s when the doctors told me I had incurable bowel cancer. That moment changed my life. They said I’d have six months to live without treatment.”

Her 23-year-old daughter Liv was also in the hospital room when doctors delivered the diagnosis.

Michelle said: “My daughter physically shook and fell to the floor. The outlook seemed very bleak and neither of us could believe what was happening. Here I was in a hospital bed with a tube down my nose being pumped with painkillers – it was totally surreal.”

Michelle had a stent fitted to push the tumour to one side and began a course of chemotherapy at The Christie in Manchester – a regular treatment she continues to have today.

Michelle said: “Here I am a year on from being diagnosed and feeling extremely grateful. When you have cancer your only priority is to stay alive and it’s thanks to treatment that my disease is being managed and I am still here today.

“My daughter thinks that sometimes I forget I’m on chemotherapy, but whilst the drugs are busy controlling the tumour, I intend to get on with life and live it to the full. Having a bit of energy is just the best feeling in the world.”

Michelle is currently studying for a PhD in Sports Psychology while appearing as a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester.

Michelle with nurses from The Christie Hospital. Credit: Family handout

Following the cancellation of fundraising events like Race for Life, the charity is expecting a £160 million drop in income in the year ahead.

As a result, Cancer Research UK has made the decision to cut £44 million in research funding, but the charity expects this to go further.

Anna Taylor, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Michelle for her fantastic support. Thanks to research she is enjoying precious time with her family and friends.

“However, COVID-19 has put so much of our research on pause, leaving Cancer Research UK facing a crisis where every day and every pound counts.

“With over 40,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year in the North West*, we will never stop striving to create better treatments. But we can’t do it alone.

“Whether they donate, sign up to Race for Life at Home or shop at our stores - with the help of people in the North West, we believe that together we will still beat cancer."

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