A CHESTER mum is backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign for World Cancer Day and is urging everyone to join her by wearing the charity’s Unity Band on February 4.
Juana Marti Nieto, who works as a teaching assistant, is wearing the brightly coloured wristbands to show solidarity with other people diagnosed with cancer.
The Unity Band is available in three different colours – pink, navy and blue. It can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment.
Juana, aged 53, moved to Chester from Menorca in Spain 24 years ago. When the mum-of-two lost a lot of weight in 2016, she put it down to stress. She had become aware of a lump near her windpipe, but as it wasn’t painful and she was so busy, she wasn’t initially concerned. However, when she sent a video of it to a nurse friend, the friend urged her to go to the doctor immediately. As the problem wasn’t classed as urgent, Juana faced a while for a scan.
Following a biopsy at hospital, Juana was warned that “suspicious cells” had been found and she would need surgery to have the lump removed.
After the surgery, initial tests on the tissue proved inconclusive and a sample had to be sent to an expert team at The University of Liverpool with the final results coming back three weeks later.
Juana was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have further surgery to entirely remove the thyroid. When she had recovered from the surgery, Juana was given radioactive iodine treatment, which can be used for thyroid cancer. This treatment involved having to be isolated in a hospital room due to the fact it makes the patient slightly radioactive for a short while. It was a difficult time for Juana as her youngest daughter wasn’t allowed to see her while she was waiting for the radioactivity to subside.
Juana, who lives in Upton, has a scan every six months and remains cancer free. She knows only too well how devastating the effects of the disease can be, having lost her dad to lung cancer and a sister to stomach cancer. Her eldest daughter teaches English in Menorca and her youngest daughter is studying a dance degree in London.
Every hour, around five people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West.* By making a donation for a Unity Band, people across Chester will be raising money for life-saving research which will help give people like Juana more precious time with their loved ones.
Juana said: “Nothing prepares you for the diagnosis, it was such a shock. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance and I want to make the most of it by making every moment count. That includes helping to raise vital awareness and funds. It’s thanks to research I’m still here today, enjoying doing all the things that are so dear to me like working at the school and walking my dog.
“That’s why I want everyone in Chester to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day – it’s a fantastic opportunity to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work. Just by wearing a Unity Band, everyone can help make a real difference to people with cancer.”
Marked on February 4, World Cancer Day is designed to raise awareness of cancer and to promote its prevention, detection and treatment.
One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime.
The good news is, thanks to research, more people are surviving than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. But the charity needs everyone to act right now to help speed up life-saving advances.
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Cheshire, said: “We are very grateful to Juana for her support and showing how important it is for everyone to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day. It is a powerful accessory in the fight against the disease.
“We’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. But we can’t do it alone. By making a donation of just £2, people in Cheshire will be able to help fund world-class cancer research to help more people survive. Together, we will beat cancer.”
Unity Bands are available in all Cancer Research UK shops, including the ones in Watergate Street and Foregate Street in Chester, and online at cruk.org/worldcancerday