WHEN Kelly Davis was told to cancel her dream wedding following a cancer diagnosis in order to undergo life-saving treatment, she was determined to follow her heart.
The 48-year-old, from Taunton, was so determined to marry her fiancé Mike, their wedding went ahead on July 4 last year, thanks to her amazing work colleagues who fundraised and bought her a stunning real hair wig and paid to have her size 12 wedding dress altered to a size 8.
Now Kelly, who works as a civil servant, has vowed to help Cancer Research UK continue its mission as it launches an urgent new appeal for donations to help get life-saving work back on track.
She is backing a new Cancer Research UK appeal for donations to get life-saving research back on track and is sharing her story to highlight the dramatic loss of income the charity has suffered, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the cancellation of fundraising events like Race for Life, the charity is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income in the year ahead.
As a result, Cancer Research UK has had to make the difficult decision to cut £44 million in research funding, but this is likely to be just the beginning.
That’s why she’s helping to highlight the threat the funding gap poses to future breakthroughs for cancer patients in Somerset and across the UK.
“On March 1, 2018, I was diagnosed with reactive arthritis, then on March 1 2019, my world crashed around me – I was diagnosed with grade 3, stage 3 breast, lymph node and HER2 Positive cancer,” said Kelly, who is currently shielding at home.
“Doctors found four tumours in my breast and removed 20 lymph nodes.
“My first words to the cancer nurse were ‘what can I do to help myself beat this?’
“She hugged me then asked if we had anything planned, ‘I sobbed our wedding and honeymoon is just around the corner’.
“We cancelled our honeymoon in Corfu but went ahead with our wedding, which was planned for Weston-Super-Mare.
“I was growing my hair but was told it would likely fall out after chemo, so my work colleagues rallied round and bought me a real hair wig and paid to have my wedding dress to be altered.
“I had so many welts and blisters on my face on my wedding day that I was told only to wear make up for the photos and then take it off.
“I was on so many antibiotics that my skin couldn’t cope, but I have been in pain most of my life so I am really strong and feel that I will get through this.”
Kelly was born with congenital tibia and fibula – shortening of the right leg.
When she was 16 she had an operation to lengthen her leg and has undergone 22 surgeries on her knee and hip over the years and her joints are damaged due to being on crutches for so long.
“I have been disabled for all my life and on crutches since the age of 16 and I’ve had numerous surgeries on my knee and hip, but it has never stopped me from working and bringing up my wonderful daughter, Lauren, who will be 21 in August,” Kelly added.
“With Covid it’s even more important that research happens for all the people in the future who may sadly get this terrible disease, but I am so determined that If I can give just one person some hope that together we can still beat cancer than it would be worth it.”
Cancer Research UK’s work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has been at the heart of progress that has seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.
Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity currently funds around 50 per cent of all publicly funded cancer research in the UK.
However, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, promising projects which could have the big answers to cancer are being held up.
Alison Birkett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the South West, said: “We’re grateful to Kelly for helping to underline the stark reality of the current situation.
“COVID-19 put so much of our research on pause, leaving us facing a crisis where every day and every pound counts.
“With around 34,800 people diagnosed with cancer each year in the South West*, we will never stop striving to create better treatments. But we can’t do it alone.
“Whether they donate, sign up to Race for Life at Home or shop at our stores – with the help of people in Somerset, we believe that together we will still beat cancer.”
Visit cruk.org/give to make a donation.