Corby mum living with terminal lung cancer helping raise awareness of symptoms

The mum-of-three has been working with The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Saturday, 7th November 2020, 8:32 am
Mary with granddaughter Maeve

A Corby woman diagnosed with terminal lung cancer has shared her story to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms as part of November's Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Mary Hurst, 55, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer two years ago, has urged people not to ignore coughs or changes, be persistent and to 'bother' their GP.

Her lung cancer was eventually picked up after being admitted to hospital with an unrelated ailment when tests and scans revealed shadows on her lungs.

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Despite having stage 4 cancer, the mum of three has vowed to live her life as though she's going to live rather than as though she's going to die.

She said: "I want to raise awareness, and if you or someone you know has symptoms, in particular, a persistent cough please get it checked out, be persistent with your GP, bother them, keep going back. I wish I had.

"Remember anyone with lungs can get lung cancer."

Mary, who works for RS Components as a materials planner, was first diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer just before Christmas in 2018 after a biopsy confirmed two tumours and enlarged lymph nodes.

She didn’t tell anyone except her husband of 16 years John, until a 'wonder drug' Alectinib had reduced the tumours dramatically.

Mary said: "I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy so it wasn’t obvious what I was going through - my hair hadn't fallen out. So I kept it to myself until I had my first scan in May. The results of that scan were very good, the tumour had shrunk by more than half and it was reducing in my lymph glands."

It was only when the eight-tablet-a-day treatment was shown to be helping to keep the cancer at bay that Mary decided to tell her three daughters, Nicole, 32, Aislinn, 30, and Grace, 17, and seven siblings about her prognosis.

Nearly two years later she wants to share her story, to show that if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

Mary with daughters Aislinn, Grace and Nicole

She said: "My cancer is a rare cancer ALK+ caused by a genetic mutation. It's where two genes try to fuse together in the lungs. They do not know why it happens, it could happen to anyone. Research has resulted in a targeted therapy being available.

"My daughter made me go to the doctor about the cough the year before I was diagnosed. I had an X-ray and it was clear. The cough was not productive and I had it for about 18 months.

"My whole point is don’t push it to one side. Listen to your body go and see your GP and go back again be annoying.”

A fortnight ago, Mary welcomed granddaughter Maeve into the family after daughter Nicole gave birth.

Mary and John and Aislinn, Grace and Nicole

"I don't wake up thinking I've got cancer. Some people might want to climb a mountain or jump out of a plane, I need to go to work and get on with my life.

"I wanted to share my story now to help raise awareness, especially at the minute but also to let people know that whilst you might not expect to be able to live with lung cancer, you can.

"I live my life as though I’m going to live. I don’t live my life as though I’m going to die."

For further infomation about the Roy Castle Lung Foundation click here

Mary with her mum and siblings