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Cancer survivor Shannon fronts major charity campaign

 

Scots mum chosen to launch Stand Up To Cancer

Inspirational bride-to-be Shannon Lamb who went through treatment for cancer while pregnant has been chosen as the face of a campaign across Scotland to help save lives.

The 28-year-old lost part of her right lung as well as her left ovary and fallopian tube to the disease.

She also endured two stem cell transplants and chemotherapy.

Now Shannon is planning her wedding to Mark Taylor on 25 October next year, with the couple’s 11-month-old son Hunter, right at the heart of the big day.

Shannon knows exactly the impact improved cancer treatments are having on lives. That’s why she’s backing Stand Up To Cancer, from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, which raises funds to takes developments from the lab and accelerates them into new tests and treatments.

With around 34,600 people in Scotland diagnosed with cancer every year, the need to make faster advances is clear. Shannon hopes her story will inspire Scots to unite against the disease by raising money to help make the next cancer breakthrough happen.

Shannon, of Broughty Ferry, said: “I have everything to live for. I’m getting married next year to the love of my life who has been there every step of the way. On our wedding day, I’ll walk down the aisle with our son Hunter in my arms.

“I discovered I was pregnant with Hunter during the darkest of times when I was struggling to come to terms with the news that the cancer I thought had gone for good was back. It was frightening when I was informed that if I didn’t start chemotherapy straight away then I wouldn’t be alive to see my baby grow up.

“Cancer took many things, at times cancer took my dignity, my confidence, my happiness, my hair. Some days I’d look in the mirror, break down and think, ‘why me?’ But knowing I was going to be a mum motivated me, it made me determined to keep going. It’s amazing being a mum and I wake up every morning feeling so unbelievably lucky that I have my beautiful, miracle son. I want to Stand Up To Cancer to give people with cancer strength and help them know they’re not alone.”

It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in October 2020 when Shannon was first diagnosed with a mixed germ cell tumour which doctors explained was a rare form of ovarian cancer. She’d gone to the doctor after feeling run down and noticing a lump protruding from her stomach. No visitors were allowed into hospital when just before Christmas, Shannon had surgery to remove the tumour which was 13cm by 10cm, measuring the size of a grapefruit.

After Shannon was told no further treatment was needed, she hoped to have put cancer behind her and started dating Mark Taylor, 37.

In March 2022, Shannon turned to her doctor for help after feeling constantly out of breath and exhausted. It was a hammer blow when tests showed cancer had spread to her right lung. It was as Shannon struggled to come to terms with the news, that the oncologist from Ninewells hospital in Dundee called her with the results of a blood test which stopped her in her tracks.

Shannon said: “I was three weeks pregnant. It felt like everything collapsed around me. I was happy because I was pregnant but I was also devastated. It was a time of so many mixed emotions. I desperately wanted to have this baby but felt instantly protective of it. I didn’t want to do anything that would put the health of the baby at risk.”

Doctors advised Shannon to have chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumours from her lung. She was 16 weeks pregnant when the operation went ahead at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Shannon said: “I was terrified of harming my baby and nearly turned my back on surgery altogether due to my worries that it could put the baby at risk.

“Would my baby survive the surgery, get through a general anaesthetic with me? I burst in to tears and I wanted to go home. I came so close to walking away from that ward but luckily the anaesthetist reassured me that it was going to be okay and I went ahead. Surgeons removed around a third of my lung. I woke up after the operation in excruciating pain but refused any painkiller but paracetamol. My first question was about my baby. It was a relief when the medical team did an ultrasound and I could hear my baby’s heart beating.”

But further tests showed the cancer had spread to her spine, pelvic bone, lymph node and a 5cm mass next to her right kidney. Doctors explained the cancer was now stage four. By the time Shannon was 32 weeks pregnant, scans showed that her baby was not growing as well as before and a caesarean section was booked.

On 17 November last year at Ninewells hospital, her son Hunter John Taylor was born, weighing 3lb 10oz. Being born prematurely meant he started off life in the neonatal unit but he was healthy. Just four days after Hunter was born, Shannon had a second round of chemotherapy and had only 30 minutes a day disconnected from the treatment to visit her son.

In April 2023, Shannon travelled to Hammersmith Hospital in London to have a stem cell transplant to help her body make new healthy blood cells after her own had been damaged by the disease.

It meant four weeks in hospital while doctors collected healthy stem cells from Shannon then she started high doses of chemotherapy followed by the stem cells being administered back into her body through a drip. Later that summer she returned for her second transplant but was finally able to come home to Scotland on 4 August. Later this year Shannon will return to hospital in London as she is due surgery on her spine.

Shannon who is a talented singer said music and the support of loved ones have proved her lifeline. She plans to enter singing competition TV series, The Voice UK. And wedding plans are well underway. She’s asked her cousin Yannah Lamb to be maid of honour and her best friends Sarah Munns, 28, and Catherine Paterson, 29, to be bridesmaids as well as Anne Johnstone, a nurse at the GP surgery Shannon attends in Brown Street, Broughty Ferry who has supported her. Shannon’s mum, Susan Lamb, auntie Karen Lamb and her fiancé mum Elizabeth Taylor are helping Shannon pick out the perfect wedding dress.

Shannon said: “I’m lucky to have so many special people in my life.”

Stand Up To Cancer is helping to transform the landscape of cancer therapy. Since its launch in 2012, the campaign has raised more than £93 million, funding 64 clinical trials and research projects involving more than 13,000 cancer patients. 

People can support Stand Up To Cancer this autumn by getting sponsored to do 100 squats every day throughout November. Participants can adapt the challenge to suit their fitness level and complete their squats anytime, anywhere – all at once or throughout the day. By the end of the 30 days, they will have clocked-up a total of 3,000 squats to help power life-saving research.  

Alternatively, less energetic folk can choose to donate, raise money in their own way, or pick from a host of fun-filled ideas with a free fundraising pack available online for inspiration and support.  

The Stand Up To Cancer campaign will continue throughout October, with a collection of special programming airing on Channel 4 later in the month and culminating in a night of live television on Friday, 3 November.

To donate or fundraise visit su2c.org.uk 

 

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