I was successfully treated at University College London Hospital, 9 years ago for a very rare cancer, Spindle Cell Sarcoma, in my lower jaw.
Even now, all these years later,
It’s impossible to write about the incredible departments that treated me at UCLH, without welling up with tears of love and gratitude!!
The Oncology and Head & Neck Departments at UCLH are in a single word, INCREDIBLE!! I had 5 months of gruelling chemotherapy. Next came the toughest and longest part of my treatment journey, both physically and mentally. Under the exceptional care of my Head & Neck Consultant Mr Kalavrezos and his team, I had two huge life changing operations, to get rid of the tumor. Each one, 14 hours in surgery, involving a large team of medical staff, followed by a lengthy stay in hospital. Both surgeries involved removing large sections of my lower jaw (all of my lower row of teeth!). Then reconstructing it by using my fibular bones (one from each lower leg), around a titanium plate. This has been the toughest experience of my life. I was immobile for the first ten days, spending a week each time in an induced coma in ICU. As a result of the surgeries, I had to have a tracheotomy both times. When I was woken up in the Intensive Care Unit, my battered body hooked up to all manner of machines and monitors. Each day I grew stronger, and quickly became less dependent on all the apparatus. I was discharged from hospital after approx 3 weeks. Then followed months of painstaking patience, effort, and more procedures. Recovery was painfully hard work. My visible appearance had changed drastically. The scarring on my body can be measured in feet (4ft to be exact!). Vanity doesn't come into it, it's far greater than that. Imagine looking at yourself in a mirror and then not recognising the person that you see before you. For a while, I felt like I'd lost my identity. The swelling and the healing eventually settled, but it took time and a lot of support to accept my new face and the scars on my neck and lower legs. I've grown to love and am incredibly proud of my scars.
So this brings me to the reasons I'm running the Virgin London Marathon for UCLH Cancer Charity. Like the recovery from the operations, distance running is tough, BUT I love it. This is my way of sticking my fingers up at cancer loudly!
1) To achieve something my younger self, would never ever have dreamed possible.
2) For patients that are about to go through (or have had) similar Head & Neck operations. I want them to know, that while I'm no Paula Radcliffe, it's still possible to get up, get out there and kick ass!!!
3) To my very special and wonderful team at UCLH (you know who you all are), I'm so proud to be doing this for you lot. You know I think the world of each and everyone of you!
Lastly a huge big shout out, to my colleagues, friends, family, to my coach Mike Antoniades for believing in me, and especially to Mick and Woody, because you know I love you both more than anything, and if I had to, I'd do it all again in a heart beat!! Jude x
Your donations will go towards further improving patient care in the Head & Neck Department AND Cancer Charity at UCLH. This is a subject very dear and close to my heart, and one that I share with the team. Please help as much as you can, because it will make such an important difference!!! THANK YOU for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
I’m running The VLM19 !! for University College Hospital Cancer Fund because I’m raising funds for UCLH Cancer Charity