Angela's Story

About Me

Hi, my name is Angela. I am from Georgia, USA but have lived in Glasgow, Scotland since I was 14 years old. I moved here because my mother remarried someone from the UK. I live with my partner Murdo and our three fur-baby cats whom we adopted called Dixie, Daisy and Tubbs. I have always enjoyed my life from growing up in the Deep South to living in a foreign country as beautiful as Scotland. I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience and live in a different country from the place of my birth.

I am an outgoing person who loves to be around friends and family and I love to plan activities, events, holidays and get-togethers that keep everyone connected so that there are many wonderful shared experiences and memories. I love to travel and have been to many places and am grateful that I have had the opportunity to see so many wonderful countries and discover their culture, enjoy live music or music festivals, love movies - any kind!, good food - from eating out to cooking to watching cookery programmes and my cats - they keep me sane!

I have worked in the charitable sector for over 20 years as a Finance Manager, however, my passion lies in fundraising/events and I have done this through work but also in a volunteering capacity with many charities and local community groups and feel that this has been my calling in life - to help others and contribute to society in a positive way.

My Diagnosis 

In March 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bowel/Colorectal Cancer after experiencing pains, change in my bowel habits and the frequency in doing so. I was 43 at the time of diagnosis and I was told not to worry and that I was too young to have cancer. There are 4 stages of cancer and Stage 4 is the worst - this means that the primary cancer has spread to other parts of the body and in my case, my liver. I was told that I had 5-10% chance of living past 5 years from diagnosis. I have said to everyone that I am not a statistic and I will be a survivor. I have too much of a strong will and determination to live. I’m coming up to 3 years since diagnosis and I believe that I will find a cure somehow with new treatments and therapies becoming available all of the time.

My Treatment So Far

As of November 2020:

April - August 2018: I have had 4 months of chemotherapy

October 2018: PVE procedure to grow my liver

January 2019: Liver re-section surgery removing 70% of my liver and 15 tumours

April 2019: Fluid in my lungs drained with biopsy taken - all clear with no disease in lungs

May 2019: Bowel surgery to remove my primary tumour from my colon

September 2019 - March 2020: Another few months of chemotherapy

February & May 2020: 2 RFA ablations on the tumours in my liver

August 2020 - Now: Started chemotherapy again

October & December 2020: Also having a radiotherapy treatment called SIRT which will be completed in December 2020.

Unfortunately, I keep having recurrence of tumours in the liver and thankfully no recurrence in the bowel. Chemotherapy can reduce tumours and in some extraordinary cases make someone NED (no evidence of disease). With Stage 4, it's generally classed as incurable and so us patients if clear from disease use the NED term instead of cancer-free. The problem being that there are most likely dormant cancer cells or too small to see tumours hidden that decide one day to show their ugly face!

My Symptoms

I’ve experienced hair loss during each bout of chemo (now wearing wigs), sickness, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, neuropathy in hands and feet, skin rash and irritation, infections in my nail beds, hair growth on face, onset of menopause, chemo brain (memory loss), pains (back, shoulder, and liver/abdomen) and tiredness/fatigue. My mental health has suffered at times - I do try and stay positive but I do have bad days. Life can become overwhelming. I’ve tried taking Cannabis oil, followed a vegan diet for a short while, cut out read meat and sustained from alcohol throughout except on special occasions. I’m currently on the KETO diet as this cuts out sugar and carbs which cancer thrives on.

I have been off my work throughout my cancer journey and finally had to give up my job in September 2020. I continued to volunteer until February 2020 too with my local community/sports club, holding fundraising events and securing funding to provide an initiative to help reduce social isolation and increase physical activity in the community and with a charity providing food baskets to those most in need at Christmas.

I have had such amazing support from so many wonderful people, charities and medical staff and I give thanks to them all. The medical care I have received has been amazing and the Beatson Cancer Centre and its staff are phenomenal. I am in gratitude to them and to Macmillan and Cancer Support Scotland for their advice and help. The love from my family and friends I have received has helped me stay positive and focussed on being a survivor! Special thanks to my Mother, Renee and to my partner, Murdo, for always being there when needed. It really affects them too.

My Hope for the Future

I know that I still have a long way to go to be NED and to be cancer-free. At some point, options will become less available through our wonderful NHS and I will need to look at alternative treatments, therapies and surgery to keep me alive and to achieve my goal of being cured. We are currently in discussions with a surgeon in New York and looking at life-changing surgery which will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. I must meet strict criteria for this and the team in New York are reviewing my medical records and scans to see if I will be eligible for this procedure with the outcome imminent.

If I am not eligible, there are other treatments that the Act 4 Angela team are researching and I will still need financial help for me to access these in the future. Any money you donate and raise will help keep me alive and once I am cured, any money donated not spent will either go to help other individuals with their treatment or to other cancer charities.

Finally, I want to give hope to others and help raise awareness of Bowel/Colorectal Cancer, with a particular focus on those under the age of 50 in the UK and 55 in the USA (the ages when you get screened for this type of cancer). Cancer does not discriminate and diagnosis should be made on symptoms, not age. You are never too young to get cancer! I encourage anyone who experiences symptoms to get checked ASAP. Do not delay and insist that the medical professionals take action. YOU are your best advocate and I advise you to ask questions and get referred for tests. The facts are alarming. 1 in 2 of us will develop cancer at some point in our lifetime. This can’t always be avoided BUT there are ways to reduce your risk of developing cancer. Find out more HERE

Take part in our Act 4 Angela New Year Heathy Challenge and help reduce YOUR risk of developing cancer and raise funds for my treatment at the same time. Find out more HERE

With Love, Hope and Thanks to you all

Angela xxx ❤️

My first day of chemo April 2019 at the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow

My first hair thinning after Chemo

My hair now (I now have to wear wigs)

Recovering at home after first lot of Chemo with one of my fur babies, Daisy

First day of my second lot of Chemo, September 2019

Going in for my SIRT treatment, November 2020 (with my wig!)

Me and my Mum

Me and my Partner Murdo