Next month our incredible Beatson Cancer Charity ambassador, Francesca Mancini, will be taking part in our big yellow sponsored walk Off The Beatson Track to show her support for the wonderful care she recieved.
The student is passionate about supporting The Beatson which helped her through the most traumatic time of her life.
"The work they do at the Beatson is fantastic, and I’m not just talking about the people you see every day, who carry out the massages or cut your hair,”
I’m talking about everyone, from the doctors and nurses to the people in the office, who took time out of their day to come and visit me when I was unwell.”
Francesca, who lives at home with her mum and dad, May and Osvaldo, and six-year-old sister Chiara, has fought back twice to defeat cancer, enduring chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and a stem cell transplant.
First diagnosed with stage four Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, which had started to spread to her lung, pancreas, abdominal lymph nodes and the sac around her heart, Francesca had a tumour the size of a grapefruit removed from her chest.
In October last year, she was in remission but just two months later, the disease sadly returned.
“The tumour was in my pancreas, pressing on my liver, which meant I was severely jaundiced and couldn’t have chemotherapy at first,” she explains.
I needed radiotherapy to shrink the tumour and a stent put in to open things up so the liver would start working again and in January, I finally started chemo again.”
After chemotherapy proved successful, Francesca had a stem cell transplant and spent three weeks in isolation at the Beatson.
“The staff were amazing – because I couldn’t get out, they came to me and it was wonderful,” she sighs. They did my nails, gave me massages and we chatted – not about me, or my treatment, but about their lives or what my wee sister was up to and what was going on in the outside world. It was fantastic just to feel normal again.”
Fifty days after the transplant, Francesca had a scan which confirmed once again, she was clear of cancer.
“I couldn’t honestly believe it when they told me, I phoned my boyfriend and all my friends and my mum and I were just standing shaking our heads in disbelief.
So we decided to have a party. We got the news at about lunchtime on a Friday and by 8.30 that night we had organised a party at the house, invited everyone along, and booked a holiday to Turkey.”
Francesca is hoping to resume her studies – she is a biomedical science undergraduate at Edinburgh University – in September, but for now she is focussing on raising funds for the Beatson by taking part in its Off the Beatson Track next month.
“There are lots of us, and I hope by taking part in this amazing event, I can share my story and encourage them and get help for them.”
She adds: “The Beatson means a great deal to me and my family. This wasn’t the start to 2016 I had planned, but it’s turned out all right and for now I am focussing on my future.
“I remember back in December, when I started feeling ill again and realised what was happening, posting the news on social media for my friends.
“I think I was on a different planet at the time, because I wrote: ‘2016 is still going to be my year, it’s just that there might be a bit more chemo in it than I’d planned.”
She laughs: “That turned out to be very true. But it’s funny, even though it was the worst of times for me, I met the best people, and I have made such good friends from my time at the Beatson. I hope lots and lots of people will come along to the walk to support us.”
There is still plenty of time to sign up to our family friendly, 6.5 mile stroll throughout Glasgow's West End, on Sunday 28th August.
To register call 0141 212 0505, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the link below.