Cancer survivor tells her story on TV to raise funds

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A woman who developed cancer at the age of 25 was so grateful to be cured of the disease that she is to star in the first television commercial to raise funds for cancer research. Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, hears her story.

Lynn Holloway was married with a two-year-old daughter when she was diagnosed as having Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph glands. Almost the first thing the doctors told her was that saving her life might only be achieved at the cost of her fertility.

"I was frightened like everyone else when the big C word was mentioned. But my main worry was whether I would be able to have any more children," she said.

Seven years on, she has defied the odds to give Becky, nine, two brothers - Jordan, five, and Samuel, three. To repay her doctors, she offered to help raise funds and was selected to appear in the Cancer Research Campaign's pounds 70,000 television campaign. The advertisements, which show Becky talking of her fear and joy as her mother finally beats the disease, is to be launched on Boxing Day.

After her diagnosis, Ms Holloway endured a year of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which required fortnightly stays in hospital and left her feeling nauseous and wretched. There are between 2,500 and 3,000 cases of Hodgkin's disease each year and 70 per cent are cured but the treatment can have long-term toxic side-effects. As well as infertility, some patients develop other cancers ranging from leukaemia to lung cancer.

"Half-way through the treatment I got very angry. I told everyone to go away and that I had to get on with it myself and no one could help me. I think focusing on having another baby helped me to get better. It kept my mind off me. I was thinking not about dying but about having more children."

Final confirmation of her recovery came when a life-assurance company which had been quoting her a premium five times the normal rate reduced it last year to the standard fee. It meant that mortgages, bank loans and all the burdens that constitute an ordinary existence, and which depend on the guarantee of life assurance, were hers again. Normal life had been resumed. Ms Holloway said: "Everyone thinks if you get cancer you are going to die. It is not true anymore."

The pilot television campaign will run for one month on Sky News, Discovery Channel, Granada Goodlife and The History Channel. A spokeswoman for the Cancer Research Campaign said the cost of running it on the main ITV network would have been too great. The response will be assessed before a decision to repeat the experiment is taken.