Fareham mum raffles off painting to raise funds for Queen Alexandra Hospital staff who helped her through breast cancer treatment
A SHOCK cancer diagnosis has led a Fareham mum to raise awareness of the disease while collecting funds for hospital staff.
Just one week before the first lockdown in March 2020, Jemma Reed was diagnosed with stage 3 metaplastic breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.
The 34-year-old, who has no family history of the disease, is now encouraging people to get checked by their doctor if they notice a change.
Jemma is also raising funds for the oncology team at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, who provided incredible care throughout Jemma’s surgery and treatment.
Mum-of-two Jemma said: ‘As awful as it has been, now I’m coming out the other side I think actually I’m lucky.
‘Three days after diagnosis I had my surgery and the next day was lockdown. I feel awful for those who went in a bit too late.’
Veterinary nurse Jemma first went to her GP after noticing discharge from her nipple, which was initially put down to eczema, although Jemma was asked to come back two weeks later.
However, she decided not to as she didn’t think it was anything serious - but when it got worse, doctors found a rock-sized lump.
Jemma was booked in for mastectomy surgery and lymph node removal three days later, and praises medical staff for saving her life.
She said: ‘The surgeon I saw was amazing and she just pushed it through. They’re so amazing, what they do is incredible, especially within this last year.
‘They literally don’t stop and they do it with a smile on their face. They are saving our lives and prolonging our lives, I’d like to give them something back.’
Following surgery, Jemma had chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy which made her very ill and unable to get out of bed for three months during chemo.
She has given thanks to her ‘incredible’ husband Russell, who rallied round her to make sure she was well looked after and that children Faith, four, and Joshua, seven, had everything they needed.
Painting and drawing helped Jemma to keep her mind active and her hands busy throughout her treatment and recovery, and she has decided to offer a stunning sunset painting as a prize for donors to her fundraiser.
The donation page has already raised more than £1,000, with one lucky donor set to be chosen at random to receive the sunset painting.
Jemma, who has actually received donations from some of the hospital medical staff, said: ‘People have been so amazing. I had a target of £200 and got that within 24 hours.
‘I have had an amazing response, I didn’t expect it at all.’
Jemma’s experience has encouraged her to spread as much awareness as possible about breast cancer, what to look out for and how it can happen to anyone.
She said: ‘You just don’t think it’s going to happen to you but what I have got out of this is you have got to look after yourself.
‘If I had gone back two weeks later, it would have been better because they would have done it sooner and it may not have spread to the lymph nodes.
‘I want to raise awareness for people to get checked, it doesn’t matter if you’re young.’
Visit justgiving.com/fundraising/jemma-reed2 to learn more and donate.