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‘Having cancer makes my work even more meaningful’ – Emma’s story

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by Cancer Research UK | Analysis

14 August 2015

57 comments 57 comments

Emma Shanks studies cancer at our Beatson Institute in Glasgow.

But 13 years ago, she got an unexpected and unwelcome insight into the disease: she was diagnosed with oral cancer, not once but four times in succession.

Happily, she’s now cancer-free and living life to the full, and says her experience of cancer has given her a new motivation in her work.

Hers is just one of the stories featured in our Annual Review, highlighting the progress we’re making and our aims for the future.

‘Awareness can go a long way’

I was 24 and studying molecular biology when I noticed an ulcer on the side of my tongue. It was still there a few months later and wasn’t healing – in fact it kind of got worse. And it started to hurt all the time because it would rub on my teeth.

A little later I moved to Dundee to start my PhD in molecular biology. I still had the ulcer but I didn’t think anything of it other than it was so sore all the time. Once I got settled in Dundee I registered with a dentist and that’s when things changed. The dentist I saw was aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer so when he saw my ulcer and I told him how long I’d had it for he referred me to the dental hospital to have it looked at.

At the dental hospital the doctors took biopsies from the area around the ulcer. The results showed I had oral cancer.

I felt numb when they told me – I couldn’t deal with the enormity of it all.

The doctors told me it was unusual for someone of my age to have oral cancer, but because it had been caught early the outlook was good. I had surgery to remove about a third of my tongue to clear the area of cancer which was difficult.

At the time I was in the second year of my PhD so my life pretty much revolved around the lab, studying and hanging out with friends. I couldn’t wait to get back to it after my surgery.

Emma_V9R7674_RT

Emma with her two children, Jamie and Isobel

‘It felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach’

Seven years later I noticed some white spots on my tongue. I had another biopsy. The results confirmed my worst fears – my cancer had come back. It was a massive blow and was really hard to be back in that head space again. All I could remember was how incredibly painful it had all been the first time round

By this time I was with David – he was such an immense support to me and stayed by my side the whole time. I had more surgery to remove more of my tongue and thankfully it was a success.

Life carried on as normal for the next two years. I was in good health and David and I had our first child – a little boy called Jamie.

But then the cancer came back for a third time.

This time round, Jamie was a whole new reason to survive – I had to get through this for him. I had a third surgery to remove the cancer. It was extremely tough, but I got through it. I had to for my son.

‘It was unbearable to think about’

A year later things were looking up again. I was enjoying working in a lab as a cancer researcher and had given birth to my second child, a little girl called Isobel. We were a happy family of four.

But the bubble burst again. I was diagnosed with oral cancer for a fourth time. It was two weeks after I’d given birth to Isobel.

After I got the diagnosis I looked at my daughter and thought, “If I die, she’ll have no memory of me”. It was unbearable. I recorded my voice for her to listen to while I was in hospital, just talking to her and singing her silly songs.

I looked at my daughter and thought, ‘If I die, she’ll have no memory of me’

But I couldn’t bring myself to record any goodbyes. The thought of it was heartbreaking.

This time the treatment was more complex and even more painful. I had an eight-hour operation to remove a large section of my tongue, which was then replaced with a graft from my forearm. I needed a tube in my neck so I could breathe and another tube to eat.

The treatment was awful. The whole thing was so painful and really unpleasant – I even had to learn how to talk again.

This time was the hardest, and not just because of the treatment.

I couldn’t see my son Jamie the whole time I was in hospital – he was nearly two years old so it would have been too hard for him to see me like that. Thankfully, I did get to see Isobel – she was too young to fully understand what was happening. Seeing her really got me back on my feet.

I wanted to spend more time with them, have more time as a family. I had to get better for them – and for myself.

My parents were amazing each time I was diagnosed, but particularly the fourth time. They moved in to the family home for a couple of months to help with David and the kids and everything – they were an invaluable support.

When I left the hospital after my reconstruction operation – my fifth in total – I was so emotional. It felt like I’d been released from jail. I took everything in, from the blue sky to the green grass and cuddled the kids. I’m grateful that I can enjoy the simple things in life now, like seeing Jamie and Isobel feed the animals on our farm.

It’s amazing what doctors can do and how far we’ve come in treating cancer. And despite how hard my treatment was, I feel lucky to be alive.Emma_V9R7940_RT

‘Research saved me’

I’ve been told there is a less than three per cent chance of the cancer returning, so I’m hopeful I’ve beaten the disease. I may have had cancer four times, but it won’t define me.

One of the good things to come out of this whole thing is that I’m now more confident as a person. Previously I used to get nervous before giving a presentation, but now I remind myself that I didn’t go through all that treatment just to stand up and be scared of a little talk.

And I’m actively trying to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and give people an idea of what it’s like to go through cancer by giving presentations to students and GPs about my experience.

Working in cancer research is a really fulfilling career. And because someone else’s research saved me, I want to help save others. Having cancer makes my work even more meaningful and I’m even more motivated to find better, smarter ways of treating cancer now.

My goal is to see something we find at the Beatson used to treat oral cancer patients.

Emma


    Comments

  • Rhian Lloyd-Thomas
    13 October 2015

    Good to read your story; I’ve now fought off an aggressive breast cancer three times in 3 years, and know it won’t stay away. Like you, my family gives me good reason to keep on fighting. I hope you remain cancer free!

  • Nan Wallace
    17 September 2015

    My name is Nan not Man. Poor typing & wrong specs!!!
    Nan xxx

  • Man Wallace
    17 September 2015

    Brave lady. All the very best in your future..
    From an other cancer survivor.
    Man xxx

  • Carol
    6 September 2015

    I cannot imagine how difficult it has been to face cancer 4 times. I am so pleased you are a survivor and can share precious times with your family and work to research treatments to help other sufferers.
    Due to people like yourself I have been cancer free for several years and cannot ever express how grateful I am to be able to live a life after several other family members have not been so lucky. All the best Emma. X

  • Ann McCulloch
    1 September 2015

    your story is so like my mums her fight started in 1983 she endured many years of surgery to her mouth and face, some of the operations she had had never been done before. I would like to think that what she went through has helped people today through research and education of doctors. All the best to you Emma

  • Steve
    31 August 2015

    You’re an inspiration and a reminder to all of to enjoy the simple things in life x

  • Amanda Williams
    29 August 2015

    Hi Emma,so young but so positive,stay strong….I’m now 61 & had both boobies removed & reconstructed 4 years ago,??

  • Joan
    28 August 2015

    Hi Emma, thank you for sharing your very emotional story……I lost my husband of 40 years to cancer 9 years ago…..Keep healthy and happy, enjoy life to the full with you family.

  • Victoria
    27 August 2015

    I’m a university student studying cancer biology and microbiology, stories like this help to inspire me in my course

  • David
    27 August 2015

    Great to know how important research is. Keep fund raising folks.

  • Nic
    27 August 2015

    an excellent thought provoking story. i am currently being treated for thyroid cancer and stories such as this give me great hope!

  • Martine
    27 August 2015

    Hi Emma

    Thank you for sharing your story and well done. I wish you all the best in everything you do. Live long and be happy.

  • Alan Brown.
    27 August 2015

    Congratulations to you Emma. You deserve success. I lost a loving wife to cancer in 2010. I find it difficult to live without her. Also I find it difficult to live alone, even as a pensioner. You are providing a service to many persons. All the best to you, and I trust that you have a long and happy life.

  • Lesley Bigmore
    27 August 2015

    Hi Emma
    Thank you so much for sharing your blog you have been through so much for someone so young. Its people like yourself that I admire so much. I am sure one day we will find a cure for this dreadful disease. Love to you and your family xx

  • Jenny
    27 August 2015

    Emma you are an incredible lady, thank you for,sharing your story, you bring hope to everyone through your determination. Enjoy every day you deserve it. I have many friends who have survived cancer and unfortunately some who have not, but through research we are beating this disease.

  • Bijaya Luxmi Rai
    27 August 2015

    This story is a big inspiration to those with oral cancer. I was diagnosed oral cancer 4 years ago and I had big surgery done in Bloomfield hospital with skin graft in my tongue and mandible replacement. I have to learn to speak as well. Now I feel more better and cancer free. Hope it does not come back again. Thanks to my doctors and medical team who made my surgery successful. Thanks to God.

  • Sarah Hopkins
    27 August 2015

    What an amazing lady! I am totally moved by her determination and strength to go through that. I can’t imagine that I would be so strong.

  • Jane
    26 August 2015

    What an amazing account. I’m so pleased for you that you are well again and back with your family once more.

  • Audrey
    26 August 2015

    I can only echo all the warmth and loving comments which have been sent to Emma. She is a tremendous encouragement to all who have heard her story. Her courage is an example to everyone.

  • Carmina
    26 August 2015

    Well done Emma , thanks for sharing your story!!! I am glad that u have made it through….

  • Keith Tanner
    26 August 2015

    i am heartened by and admire Emma and am so delighted that she has received the necessary treatments. How I wish that the same treatments and care applied across Scotland for other cancers. I am Northern Patient Representative for the OcuMel UK eye cancer charity and until recently, in the absence of any volunteers, I covered Scotland too. I became aware that there is no coverage within the Scottish NHS for the assessment or treatment of eye cancer sufferers who succumb to mets. Mets arising from Ocular Melanoma are incurable and 52% of sufferers will die within 5yrs of diagnosis. It is particularly concerning that the only treatment centre at Gartnavel refuses to refer its patients for essential, potentially life extending MRI scans yet one of the doctors offered to scan one patient at his private clinic. The incidence of Ocular Melanoma worldwide is 6 persons per million, Scotland has too few patients for its doctors to have the necessary experience and due to low patient numbers does not attract highly qualified and specialised doctors. Separation of the Scottish NHS from England has left it unable/unwilling to fund treatment outside the country. Consequently, sufferers of OM are simply left to die an untimely death.

  • Lynn campion
    26 August 2015

    What a brave lady. Our families are so important to our survival. I will certainly do as much as I can to help researchers find the way to beat cancer.

  • raymond v,e coe
    26 August 2015

    i started to donate after i lost my lovely sister,Maria,She had an operation and it became infected ,turned to Cancer which took her from us at the age of 43 yrs.i have donated money for over 15 yrs ,hopeing that one day it would help to beat this awful thing,im sorry to emotional to carry on conversation,but i would rather starve than stop giving to this charity,Wish you better Emma and soon ,

  • Rosemary Mitchell
    26 August 2015

    Amazing story. Well done. I can relate to the simple natural things in life like blue sky too and I am 27yrs down the line but a different case scenario. I was unable to walk for cancer research this year but will be next year.

  • Shirley Keay
    26 August 2015

    I can understand how you were motivated to beat cancer for the sake of your beautiful children – they are blessed to have such a courageous and inspirational mum! And my heart goes out to your amazing husband! I pray you’ll all have many, many happy years ahead together with all your fantastic family. God bless.

  • Wayne
    26 August 2015

    Oh Emma that’s got me welling up. It’s so similar to my mum’s history with cance. I’m so glad that you’ve made it through and can spend time with your kids! Power to you Sweetheart xx

  • Jossy
    26 August 2015

    Wow Emma u are truly inspirational , and pray to God to continue to give u d strength to carry on doing d good work. Am so happy for u n ur lovely family, hopefully we will beat cancer soon. Thank u for not ever giving up. Best of luck with more research .

  • Dawn
    26 August 2015

    Thank you for sharing this story. I have supported Cancer Research since my darling husband was diagnosed 4 years ago with oral cancer. He too ad part of his tongue removed. Sadly he has been diagnosed again. This time the floor of mouth and has had an op to remove tumour, reconstruction, breathing tube and PEG. He s ack in hospital now with post op infection and radiotherapy starts soon. It’s so important this research goes on. Such a dreadful disease. My hubby is staying positive. You are an inspiration and I will share your story with him. Your children shoud be so proud of you and the work you are doing. You have my grateful thanks.

  • Stephen
    26 August 2015

    Emma, thank you for sharing your personal experience of cancer and working hard for us all at CRUK to find new cures. Your experience shows the importance of having regular dental checkups with a dentist who is fully aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.

  • Chris Marshall
    26 August 2015

    Emma you are an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on beating this nasty disease and good luck for the future.

  • Marie-France
    26 August 2015

    Emma you are truly inspirational and supposed to be here. I do hope that you will stay free of the horrid disease for the rest of your life so that you and your team can find a breakthrough in helping others.

    What a dreadful time you must have had so young and the impact physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

    Good check ups I hope will ensure your health from now on and innovative treatments hopefully on their way

  • Joann
    26 August 2015

    Wow Emma – a truly inspiring story – thank you for sharing it with us and for all the invaluable work you do

  • Tracey Gregson
    26 August 2015

    Dear Emma – you are meant to survive, inspire and find a cure! Keep on being brilliant. From a fellow survivor – we will beat it.

  • Jayne Neal
    26 August 2015

    Such an inspirational story – and so humbling. Thank you for telling it – and thank you for the vital work you do. May you keep well for the years ahead!!

  • Sam Fox-Kennedy
    26 August 2015

    Hi Emma. How brave you are! You hear the word cancer anywhere and your world collapses, my dad only lived until the age of 66 then he sadly lost his fight with cancer. You’re an inspiration to many people, I think you deserve every happiness, good luck with your life and I hope this disease never blights you again!

  • Val Alderson
    26 August 2015

    Very interesting and moving, Emma. I wish you and your family long, happy lives in which to continue with your wonderful work. Thanks again!

  • Fred Smith
    26 August 2015

    I think Emma is a very brave and positive lady and an example to all

  • Roger Graham
    26 August 2015

    Emma you are an amazing person and I wish you all the very best for the future.you give hope to all of us battling cancer. Thank you .

  • Dianna Warriner
    26 August 2015

    Well done Emma
    I use to work as a research cancer nurse in head and neck cancer for Professor Dishe and Professor Saunders in London so well done I realise it is not easy for patients. I have suffered brain injury and have lost most of my memory but I still remember working for them many years ago. Even though I cannot remember stuff like getting married and having my daughter. But that work I can remember slightly, probably as it was something I did every day without fail. Be positive that is the way to deal with cancer.

  • Nick Peel
    26 August 2015

    Hi Digby,
    Thanks for your comment. You can find the best way to contact us about your monthly donation here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/contact-us
    If it’s a direct debit, you can also contact us via this number 0300 123 1861.
    Best wishes,
    Nick, Cancer Research UK

  • Pamela
    26 August 2015

    God you are a brave lady, I just had breast cancer and had a tumour removed and now I complain because I’ve got lymphodema and my arm is a bit swollen, just makes you realise to stop moaning and get on with life, you are an inspiration and its thanks to people like you who will one day find a cure for this dreadful disease. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and keep on trying to find a cure and being a truly fantastic, brave person that you are, your children are very lucky to have a mother like you!

  • Phoebe Chimomona
    26 August 2015

    Hi Emma
    Your testimony had challenged me you are such a strong person i had ever heard. Anyway my goal on my last Race for Life on the 28/06/15 was Everyone to be free from Cancer by 2020. Thank you for publishing your story, it gives hope and future to others

  • Penny Alexander
    26 August 2015

    Hello Emma first and foremost I was delighted to hear that you have beaten this dreadful disease, not once but four times! Your bravery and forbearance should be a credit to all. I have had a run in with this terrifying disease also but like you managed to beat it and that was 27 years ago so research has come on in leaps and bounds since then. I am sure you cherish every moment of your life with your adorable children and husband. Stay well Emma

  • Garry Withey
    26 August 2015

    UPLIFTED.

  • Jean Bayliss
    26 August 2015

    Well done Emma. You are a true inspiration of never giving up – not only for your own sake but also for your family. As a cancer survivor, thanks to my taking part in a cancer trial, I fully empathise. Cancer Research in its many forms is an amazing – as are you.

  • Carole Gleghorn
    26 August 2015

    Hi Emma. My Mam is going throught the same at the moment. she has just had the cancer removed this week for the fourth time. she is still bubbly and never complains even though I know it is so painful for her when she eats. Keep up the good work and good luck for the future. Lets hope it doesnt come back for either of you. Four times is more than enough

  • jeannette riley
    26 August 2015

    How brave you are and what an inspiration to others. Through research, funding, and everyone’s hard work, etc, one day cancer will be dead and buried. Having had the disease twice, I understand what you mean by making the most of life and recognizing the beauty that surrounds us. God bless you and your family.

  • Margaret Hood
    26 August 2015

    Hello, my I was really full of compassion and sympathy for you Emma, what courage to go through all that and share your story, so important to be aware of changes anywhere in the body. I wish you health and happiness. Cancer touches most of us at some point within the family or friends Cancer research does a fantastic job and more developments happen to give more sufferers hope of surviving.

  • Digby Fairweather
    26 August 2015

    How can I increase my monthly donation?
    Love to you all,
    Digby Fairweather

  • Deborah
    26 August 2015

    What a moving account. It will put a whole lot more meaning to my sponsored walk for Cancer Research UK in October. I shall be walking across all the inhabited islands of the Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. Good luck to you, Emma.

  • Elaine S
    26 August 2015

    Oh my goodness what a brave lady you are Emma. What an inspiration you are to everyone affected by this hideous disease. Good luck in all you do especially your research work. As you say its the simple things in life that we take for granted so enjoy every day with your family. God Bless and wishing you good health long long into the future.

  • Ali
    26 August 2015

    What an amazing person you are to have survived! An inspiration to us all.

  • Hannah
    26 August 2015

    Wow – what an amazing and inspirational story. Research rules.

  • June Cowie
    19 August 2015

    What an inspirational story, Emma. You reinforce why we “Relay for Life” every year. Thinking about you and your family with great admiration.

  • Tracey bridgman
    18 August 2015

    What an inspirational woman . My husband also had a tumor removed from his tongue in 2001 . It was benign but he has over 40 lymph nodes removed from his neck to check for secondary cancer . He had speech therapy and after 6 months was back at work . He is grateful for every day and lives life to the full . God bless you Emma.

  • Lesley Shannon
    16 August 2015

    thank you for sharing Emma and thank you for the wonderful work you do to try to save lives of others whilst you went through this four times yourself our beautiful daughter Laura @paperdollybird was looked after by the wonderful folks at the Beatson sadly diagnosed stage IV & too late to be saved. Laura was only 31 years old, I thank you and all the staff at Beatson from the bottom of my heart for all you strive to do.

  • Samantha fordham
    14 August 2015

    I can totally empathise with Emma’s story. I was diagnosed 20 months ago (at 42 years old and a non smoker) with oral cancer after having an ulcer on my tongue for several months. I had a 9 hour surgical operation along with the skin graft and all of the after effects that went with it-pretty much the same as Emma’s 4th surgery story.
    Awareness and research are a massive part of everything surrounding cancer. I really feel we will beat it one day.

    Comments

  • Rhian Lloyd-Thomas
    13 October 2015

    Good to read your story; I’ve now fought off an aggressive breast cancer three times in 3 years, and know it won’t stay away. Like you, my family gives me good reason to keep on fighting. I hope you remain cancer free!

  • Nan Wallace
    17 September 2015

    My name is Nan not Man. Poor typing & wrong specs!!!
    Nan xxx

  • Man Wallace
    17 September 2015

    Brave lady. All the very best in your future..
    From an other cancer survivor.
    Man xxx

  • Carol
    6 September 2015

    I cannot imagine how difficult it has been to face cancer 4 times. I am so pleased you are a survivor and can share precious times with your family and work to research treatments to help other sufferers.
    Due to people like yourself I have been cancer free for several years and cannot ever express how grateful I am to be able to live a life after several other family members have not been so lucky. All the best Emma. X

  • Ann McCulloch
    1 September 2015

    your story is so like my mums her fight started in 1983 she endured many years of surgery to her mouth and face, some of the operations she had had never been done before. I would like to think that what she went through has helped people today through research and education of doctors. All the best to you Emma

  • Steve
    31 August 2015

    You’re an inspiration and a reminder to all of to enjoy the simple things in life x

  • Amanda Williams
    29 August 2015

    Hi Emma,so young but so positive,stay strong….I’m now 61 & had both boobies removed & reconstructed 4 years ago,??

  • Joan
    28 August 2015

    Hi Emma, thank you for sharing your very emotional story……I lost my husband of 40 years to cancer 9 years ago…..Keep healthy and happy, enjoy life to the full with you family.

  • Victoria
    27 August 2015

    I’m a university student studying cancer biology and microbiology, stories like this help to inspire me in my course

  • David
    27 August 2015

    Great to know how important research is. Keep fund raising folks.

  • Nic
    27 August 2015

    an excellent thought provoking story. i am currently being treated for thyroid cancer and stories such as this give me great hope!

  • Martine
    27 August 2015

    Hi Emma

    Thank you for sharing your story and well done. I wish you all the best in everything you do. Live long and be happy.

  • Alan Brown.
    27 August 2015

    Congratulations to you Emma. You deserve success. I lost a loving wife to cancer in 2010. I find it difficult to live without her. Also I find it difficult to live alone, even as a pensioner. You are providing a service to many persons. All the best to you, and I trust that you have a long and happy life.

  • Lesley Bigmore
    27 August 2015

    Hi Emma
    Thank you so much for sharing your blog you have been through so much for someone so young. Its people like yourself that I admire so much. I am sure one day we will find a cure for this dreadful disease. Love to you and your family xx

  • Jenny
    27 August 2015

    Emma you are an incredible lady, thank you for,sharing your story, you bring hope to everyone through your determination. Enjoy every day you deserve it. I have many friends who have survived cancer and unfortunately some who have not, but through research we are beating this disease.

  • Bijaya Luxmi Rai
    27 August 2015

    This story is a big inspiration to those with oral cancer. I was diagnosed oral cancer 4 years ago and I had big surgery done in Bloomfield hospital with skin graft in my tongue and mandible replacement. I have to learn to speak as well. Now I feel more better and cancer free. Hope it does not come back again. Thanks to my doctors and medical team who made my surgery successful. Thanks to God.

  • Sarah Hopkins
    27 August 2015

    What an amazing lady! I am totally moved by her determination and strength to go through that. I can’t imagine that I would be so strong.

  • Jane
    26 August 2015

    What an amazing account. I’m so pleased for you that you are well again and back with your family once more.

  • Audrey
    26 August 2015

    I can only echo all the warmth and loving comments which have been sent to Emma. She is a tremendous encouragement to all who have heard her story. Her courage is an example to everyone.

  • Carmina
    26 August 2015

    Well done Emma , thanks for sharing your story!!! I am glad that u have made it through….

  • Keith Tanner
    26 August 2015

    i am heartened by and admire Emma and am so delighted that she has received the necessary treatments. How I wish that the same treatments and care applied across Scotland for other cancers. I am Northern Patient Representative for the OcuMel UK eye cancer charity and until recently, in the absence of any volunteers, I covered Scotland too. I became aware that there is no coverage within the Scottish NHS for the assessment or treatment of eye cancer sufferers who succumb to mets. Mets arising from Ocular Melanoma are incurable and 52% of sufferers will die within 5yrs of diagnosis. It is particularly concerning that the only treatment centre at Gartnavel refuses to refer its patients for essential, potentially life extending MRI scans yet one of the doctors offered to scan one patient at his private clinic. The incidence of Ocular Melanoma worldwide is 6 persons per million, Scotland has too few patients for its doctors to have the necessary experience and due to low patient numbers does not attract highly qualified and specialised doctors. Separation of the Scottish NHS from England has left it unable/unwilling to fund treatment outside the country. Consequently, sufferers of OM are simply left to die an untimely death.

  • Lynn campion
    26 August 2015

    What a brave lady. Our families are so important to our survival. I will certainly do as much as I can to help researchers find the way to beat cancer.

  • raymond v,e coe
    26 August 2015

    i started to donate after i lost my lovely sister,Maria,She had an operation and it became infected ,turned to Cancer which took her from us at the age of 43 yrs.i have donated money for over 15 yrs ,hopeing that one day it would help to beat this awful thing,im sorry to emotional to carry on conversation,but i would rather starve than stop giving to this charity,Wish you better Emma and soon ,

  • Rosemary Mitchell
    26 August 2015

    Amazing story. Well done. I can relate to the simple natural things in life like blue sky too and I am 27yrs down the line but a different case scenario. I was unable to walk for cancer research this year but will be next year.

  • Shirley Keay
    26 August 2015

    I can understand how you were motivated to beat cancer for the sake of your beautiful children – they are blessed to have such a courageous and inspirational mum! And my heart goes out to your amazing husband! I pray you’ll all have many, many happy years ahead together with all your fantastic family. God bless.

  • Wayne
    26 August 2015

    Oh Emma that’s got me welling up. It’s so similar to my mum’s history with cance. I’m so glad that you’ve made it through and can spend time with your kids! Power to you Sweetheart xx

  • Jossy
    26 August 2015

    Wow Emma u are truly inspirational , and pray to God to continue to give u d strength to carry on doing d good work. Am so happy for u n ur lovely family, hopefully we will beat cancer soon. Thank u for not ever giving up. Best of luck with more research .

  • Dawn
    26 August 2015

    Thank you for sharing this story. I have supported Cancer Research since my darling husband was diagnosed 4 years ago with oral cancer. He too ad part of his tongue removed. Sadly he has been diagnosed again. This time the floor of mouth and has had an op to remove tumour, reconstruction, breathing tube and PEG. He s ack in hospital now with post op infection and radiotherapy starts soon. It’s so important this research goes on. Such a dreadful disease. My hubby is staying positive. You are an inspiration and I will share your story with him. Your children shoud be so proud of you and the work you are doing. You have my grateful thanks.

  • Stephen
    26 August 2015

    Emma, thank you for sharing your personal experience of cancer and working hard for us all at CRUK to find new cures. Your experience shows the importance of having regular dental checkups with a dentist who is fully aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.

  • Chris Marshall
    26 August 2015

    Emma you are an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on beating this nasty disease and good luck for the future.

  • Marie-France
    26 August 2015

    Emma you are truly inspirational and supposed to be here. I do hope that you will stay free of the horrid disease for the rest of your life so that you and your team can find a breakthrough in helping others.

    What a dreadful time you must have had so young and the impact physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

    Good check ups I hope will ensure your health from now on and innovative treatments hopefully on their way

  • Joann
    26 August 2015

    Wow Emma – a truly inspiring story – thank you for sharing it with us and for all the invaluable work you do

  • Tracey Gregson
    26 August 2015

    Dear Emma – you are meant to survive, inspire and find a cure! Keep on being brilliant. From a fellow survivor – we will beat it.

  • Jayne Neal
    26 August 2015

    Such an inspirational story – and so humbling. Thank you for telling it – and thank you for the vital work you do. May you keep well for the years ahead!!

  • Sam Fox-Kennedy
    26 August 2015

    Hi Emma. How brave you are! You hear the word cancer anywhere and your world collapses, my dad only lived until the age of 66 then he sadly lost his fight with cancer. You’re an inspiration to many people, I think you deserve every happiness, good luck with your life and I hope this disease never blights you again!

  • Val Alderson
    26 August 2015

    Very interesting and moving, Emma. I wish you and your family long, happy lives in which to continue with your wonderful work. Thanks again!

  • Fred Smith
    26 August 2015

    I think Emma is a very brave and positive lady and an example to all

  • Roger Graham
    26 August 2015

    Emma you are an amazing person and I wish you all the very best for the future.you give hope to all of us battling cancer. Thank you .

  • Dianna Warriner
    26 August 2015

    Well done Emma
    I use to work as a research cancer nurse in head and neck cancer for Professor Dishe and Professor Saunders in London so well done I realise it is not easy for patients. I have suffered brain injury and have lost most of my memory but I still remember working for them many years ago. Even though I cannot remember stuff like getting married and having my daughter. But that work I can remember slightly, probably as it was something I did every day without fail. Be positive that is the way to deal with cancer.

  • Nick Peel
    26 August 2015

    Hi Digby,
    Thanks for your comment. You can find the best way to contact us about your monthly donation here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/contact-us
    If it’s a direct debit, you can also contact us via this number 0300 123 1861.
    Best wishes,
    Nick, Cancer Research UK

  • Pamela
    26 August 2015

    God you are a brave lady, I just had breast cancer and had a tumour removed and now I complain because I’ve got lymphodema and my arm is a bit swollen, just makes you realise to stop moaning and get on with life, you are an inspiration and its thanks to people like you who will one day find a cure for this dreadful disease. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and keep on trying to find a cure and being a truly fantastic, brave person that you are, your children are very lucky to have a mother like you!

  • Phoebe Chimomona
    26 August 2015

    Hi Emma
    Your testimony had challenged me you are such a strong person i had ever heard. Anyway my goal on my last Race for Life on the 28/06/15 was Everyone to be free from Cancer by 2020. Thank you for publishing your story, it gives hope and future to others

  • Penny Alexander
    26 August 2015

    Hello Emma first and foremost I was delighted to hear that you have beaten this dreadful disease, not once but four times! Your bravery and forbearance should be a credit to all. I have had a run in with this terrifying disease also but like you managed to beat it and that was 27 years ago so research has come on in leaps and bounds since then. I am sure you cherish every moment of your life with your adorable children and husband. Stay well Emma

  • Garry Withey
    26 August 2015

    UPLIFTED.

  • Jean Bayliss
    26 August 2015

    Well done Emma. You are a true inspiration of never giving up – not only for your own sake but also for your family. As a cancer survivor, thanks to my taking part in a cancer trial, I fully empathise. Cancer Research in its many forms is an amazing – as are you.

  • Carole Gleghorn
    26 August 2015

    Hi Emma. My Mam is going throught the same at the moment. she has just had the cancer removed this week for the fourth time. she is still bubbly and never complains even though I know it is so painful for her when she eats. Keep up the good work and good luck for the future. Lets hope it doesnt come back for either of you. Four times is more than enough

  • jeannette riley
    26 August 2015

    How brave you are and what an inspiration to others. Through research, funding, and everyone’s hard work, etc, one day cancer will be dead and buried. Having had the disease twice, I understand what you mean by making the most of life and recognizing the beauty that surrounds us. God bless you and your family.

  • Margaret Hood
    26 August 2015

    Hello, my I was really full of compassion and sympathy for you Emma, what courage to go through all that and share your story, so important to be aware of changes anywhere in the body. I wish you health and happiness. Cancer touches most of us at some point within the family or friends Cancer research does a fantastic job and more developments happen to give more sufferers hope of surviving.

  • Digby Fairweather
    26 August 2015

    How can I increase my monthly donation?
    Love to you all,
    Digby Fairweather

  • Deborah
    26 August 2015

    What a moving account. It will put a whole lot more meaning to my sponsored walk for Cancer Research UK in October. I shall be walking across all the inhabited islands of the Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. Good luck to you, Emma.

  • Elaine S
    26 August 2015

    Oh my goodness what a brave lady you are Emma. What an inspiration you are to everyone affected by this hideous disease. Good luck in all you do especially your research work. As you say its the simple things in life that we take for granted so enjoy every day with your family. God Bless and wishing you good health long long into the future.

  • Ali
    26 August 2015

    What an amazing person you are to have survived! An inspiration to us all.

  • Hannah
    26 August 2015

    Wow – what an amazing and inspirational story. Research rules.

  • June Cowie
    19 August 2015

    What an inspirational story, Emma. You reinforce why we “Relay for Life” every year. Thinking about you and your family with great admiration.

  • Tracey bridgman
    18 August 2015

    What an inspirational woman . My husband also had a tumor removed from his tongue in 2001 . It was benign but he has over 40 lymph nodes removed from his neck to check for secondary cancer . He had speech therapy and after 6 months was back at work . He is grateful for every day and lives life to the full . God bless you Emma.

  • Lesley Shannon
    16 August 2015

    thank you for sharing Emma and thank you for the wonderful work you do to try to save lives of others whilst you went through this four times yourself our beautiful daughter Laura @paperdollybird was looked after by the wonderful folks at the Beatson sadly diagnosed stage IV & too late to be saved. Laura was only 31 years old, I thank you and all the staff at Beatson from the bottom of my heart for all you strive to do.

  • Samantha fordham
    14 August 2015

    I can totally empathise with Emma’s story. I was diagnosed 20 months ago (at 42 years old and a non smoker) with oral cancer after having an ulcer on my tongue for several months. I had a 9 hour surgical operation along with the skin graft and all of the after effects that went with it-pretty much the same as Emma’s 4th surgery story.
    Awareness and research are a massive part of everything surrounding cancer. I really feel we will beat it one day.