LAST Christmas Michelle Wood was celebrating the fact her cancer was in remission. This Christmas she is drinking a toast to the friends who helped her recovery and have raised more than £350 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
It was through sheer determination that mum-of-three Michelle discovered she was suffering from cancer - and it was through sheer determination that she fought it.
Two years ago, Michelle, of Mayster Road, Rastrick, was feeling tired and run-down and when her left leg started swelling up she sought medical help.
But it still took weeks before lymphoma - or cancer of the immune system - was diagnosed.
“It turns out I was suffering from the cancer that is the hardest to diagnose and the easiest to cure,” said 57-year-old Michelle.
“My doctor kept telling me my leg was swollen because my job as an in-store demonstrator required me to stand up a lot but I knew it wasn’t that. By then I had started to do some research on the internet and when a big lump came up in my groin I knew there was something seriously wrong.
“In fact the swelling in my leg had been caused by a massive tumour that had wrapped itself round a main artery.”
Michelle describes herself as a ‘fighter’ and she refused to be fobbed off or kept waiting for appointments. It took five biopsies to diagnose the cancer and within a week Michelle was having her first course of chemotherapy at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
“I knew I was fighting for my life and for my family,” she said.
“Within a week my hair had all fallen out and the treatment made me feel worse than the cancer had done. I got a lot of infections but I knew I had to go through it for my family. There were days when I just couldn’t get out of bed and I had no energy at all.
“But through it all my friends, my husband Keith and my family were marvellous and the support and help of the Macmillan nurses was fantastic.”
Five of her friends - Debs Smith, Jean Crowther, Sheila Snowdon, Linda Heron and Christine Nicol - organised a fund-raising event at Michelle’s home and, as a result, a cheque for £355 was handed over to Francine Tyler of the West Yorkshire office of Macmillan Cancer Support.
“They just organised it all - they even cleaned my house before and after!” said Michelle.
She is still having check-ups every 12 weeks and, though her health may not fully recover, she has managed to retain an optimistic outlook.
“I used to have long hair when I was younger and I’m planning to grow it again.
“I want people to know that it is possible to come out of the other side of cancer.”