Approximately 1 in 2 people will start a cancer journey, this is mine.

In December 1994 I was diagnosed with my first cancer, a Lipoma Like Lipo Sarcoma growing through the pelvis into the buttock on my right side. I was referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital, Kensington, London. My consultant surgeon Mr Meirion Thomas. It was a large sarcoma in two parts, unfortunately it could not be removed completely as it was growing around the main sciatic nerve and a main artery. Since that operation I have been treated to this day with Lyrica for the nerve damage and morphine for the continual pain, the drugs initially were administered via a steel synchromed pump inserted into the abdomen but for the past 10 years the morphine is administered via an adhesive patch placed on alternative buttock cheeks every 72 hours. The surgery was severe and I needed intensive physio to rehabilitate me as I had a problem walking for a time. My bit of luck this time was I didn´t need either chemotherapy or radiotherapy but as they were unable to remove all of the sarcoma I had to make regular visits to the Royal Marsden for scans and consultations with Mr Thomas, this entailed travelling from my home in Birmingham the day before the appointment as the scan was first thing in the morning and the consultation late afternoon the same day, the good news was the sarcoma never grew in size so apart from the continuous pan management I thought that was the end of my cancer journey.On June 6th 2000 my husband Carl (my rock) and I began a new life here on the Costa Blanca. Life was rosy for the next 10 years, Carl had a successful business and I did all the girly things, keep fit, lunches with the girls etc. Then in March 2010 whilst at Torrevieja Hospital for a cortisone injection when with a friend we decided to book a mammogram. My appointment came through almost immediately my friend waited 6 months for hers, maybe it was because of my cancer history, I don´t know but I am so glad I didn´t have to wait 6 months as my mammogram showed two small lumps in my left breast, imagine what could have happened in those 6 months, this is why I believe “EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES” I am certain it saved mine.


My mammogram was on Friday 12th February 2010. it showed there were two small tumours in my left breast, A week after the mammogram I received a phone call to return to Torrevieja hospital on Monday 22nd February, I thought for another mammogram as they couldn´t have got a very good image and needed to do it again. Unfortunately, I soon realised it wasn’t for another mammogram but for a biopsy as the mammogram showed the two lumps, one 1cm and the other 1.25 cm so they performed the biopsy, not very pleasant I can tell you. I was given an appointment to see the consultant for the results on Tuesday 13th April, as this was almost two months away I didn´t think there was much to worry about. BUT!!Whilst back in the UK to attend a family wedding I received a phone call from Torrevieja hospital on Sunday 7th March informing me that I was to have an MRI scan the next day, this was obviously not possible as we were not returning to Spain till the next day so another appointment was made for Wednesday10th March for the scan. It was after this phone call that the alarm bells started to ring and there was something very serious going on here for the hospital to call on a Sunday afternoon for an immediate MRI scan. The appointment with the consultant was brought forward to Tuesday 23rd March, this is when I was told I had breast cancer and that both lumps were malignant and the best course of action would be a full mastectomy of my left breast, this came as a complete shock as there was no history of breast cancer in my family. We were informed that following the surgery I would need a course of chemotherapy and then 30 sessions of radiotherapy to be carried out in at a private clinic in Benidorm, that meant travelling to Benidorm every day Mon to Fri for 6 weeks, this was very tiring having to meet the transport at Torrevieja hospital at 8.30 every day and not getting back sometimes until mid-afternoon. The mastectomy was booked in for Tuesday 23rd April , I was given this devastating news in what seemed a very “ matter of fact way”, we were in complete shock and couldn´t really focus on what we were being told, we left the consultant in a complete daze trying to come to terms with it all. But, It is what it is and we will HAVE to deal with it.


My Breast Cancer treatment was horrendous with all the evil side effects of sickness and hair loss from the chemo and the radiation burns from the radiotherapy add to that dealing with it psychologically, feeling less of a woman with only one breast and no hair, I could not look at myself in the mirror for a very long time. I like to think that I am a strong person but this thing was really getting me down, People would say to me how strong I was and how well I was dealing with it but, behind closed doors I had some very low moments and cried my tears in private. Rather than dwell on my condition I decided I needed to do something positive so myself and a group of friends decided to raise money to help in the fight against cancer so we organised a 5 km walk along Torrevieja sea front and invited all who took part to wear pink and so the fund raising group “Maria and the Pink Ladies” was born. Initially it was only going to be the one walk but it was so successful we decided to continue as a fund raising group to help in the fight against cancer and to date we have raised almost €570,000.

During one of my regular CT scans it was discovered the tumour of over 20 years ago in the UK was growing bigger, the tumour had lain dormant for all this time but since my breast cancer diagnosis it had grown over 16 cms in a year, my oncologist decided to try and shrink it with chemotherapy, my hair had grown back by now to my shoulders so I was not looking forward to losing it again but the inevitable happened and I lost my hair again, as I have always been proud of my appearance and liked to look after myself I was absolutely devastated. The chemo didn´t work and the tumour actually grew to a massive 25cms in my right buttock, and another 7cm in my pelvis. It was decided to surgically remove the tumour but only the part in my buttock first. The surgeon said it was the biggest he had removed and it was “like a melon”. The removal of the smaller tumour some months later was the one that almost broke my resolve as I didn`t think my body could take any more, emotionally I definitely couldn´t. But you do because you have to don´t you ?


So more chemotherapy!!!

The first time I lost my hair as a side effect of Chemotherapy it grew back bleached blonde but this time it grew back jet black, how strange was that. My charity work helped me not to dwell on my own problems, but I am only human and there were times when it did affect me emotionally and psychologically but ultimately it made me stronger and I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction from knowing I was helping others. All my spare time was now taken up with raising as much money as we could with my Pink Ladies to help in the fight against cancer and of course to raise awareness of the early detection program, I am living proof that early detection save lives thanks to that mammogram back in February, I am here to tell my story. Throughout my treatments I have made regular 6 monthly visits to see my Oncologist, having a CT scan and blood tests to check the cancer is not about to make an uninvited appearance, I must say the health service in Spain and especially the hospital at Torrevieja have been wonderful and continue to be so, I take my medication including morphine every day to control the pain, I must say I feel very lucky to still be here and thank God for every new day that I am here to continue my mission, letting people know the importance of early detection and raising funds to help in the fight against cancer. Maria and the Pink Ladies efforts in the fight against cancer have been recognised by the people of Orihuela Costa, the group received a Pride of Spain award for fund raising, I myself received an award for “Bravery beyond the call of duty” and Zenia Boulevard acknowledged me as “Woman of the Year” Cancer has not been kind to me though, I lost my left breast, I´ve had surgery for cancer a further five times, I¨ve also had two breast reconstructions, neither have been a success, had chemotherapy three times, lost my hair twice, had 30 sessions of radiotherapy which was horrendous. I now have incurable lymphoedema in my left arm as a result of my last breast reconstruction and I¨ve spent so much time in hospital that Ive lost count, through all of this my husband Carl has been my rock and by my side throughout my long journey.

Unfortunately my journey wasn¨t over yet !!


This final instalment of my journey through cancer brings us right up to date, from where it all started 30 years ago. Just when you think cancer has finished with you it can sneak up anytime and that’s why Early Detection is so important for us all, catch it early and your chances of survival improve drastically. Once again I have Early Detection to thank for identifying my latest cancer attack, I had been having breathing difficulties and a very annoying cough for a few weeks so went to see my GP who, because of my concerns as both my mother and sister lost their fight to lung cancer after having similar symptoms. She sent me for an x-ray but wasn´t happy with it so then sent me for a CT scan which showed a very small mass in my right lung. The hospital consultant did a biopsy and decided I needed surgery to remove it, so once again I had a battle with cancer and after what I had already been through I wasn´t about to lose this one. The surgery was carried at on January 17th 2024 almost 30 years to the date of my first battle with this heinous disease began. They removed the tumour using micro surgery and going between the ribs, the recovery was very painful but they doubled the dose of my morphine to help control it. The recovery went quite well apart from the staples becoming infected but that was cleared up with antibiotics and once cleared the staples were all removed, that was a massive relief. All we had to do now was wait for the pathology report on the tumour they removed. This is probably the worst part, the waiting, wondering if I was to have chemotherapy again or any radiotherapy. I received a phone call from the hospital on Thursday 15th February telling me “You must come to the oncologist tomorrow”, that set the alarm bells ringing, the urgency of it! The next day at the oncologist we had the most fantastic news, they had got it all and I didn´t need any further treatment other than a six monthly CT scan!!!! What a relief, Carl and I were so worried that neither of us told the other that neither of us slept the previous night. We were so excited we just wanted to tell everybody and share our fabulous news. We have some absolutely fabulous friends here in Spain who have supported us through this journey and want to thank you all.

Surely this is now the end to my cancer journey.