Cancer Doesn’t Care its Christmas: Two South Londoners share their experience of cancer in charity’s Christmas campaign

Two South Londoners have been chosen as champions for other patients after overcoming a killer disease – and are part of a cancer research campaign to support other survivors.

Alexandria Mitchell, 27, a PhD student from Streatham who overcame ovarian cancer at age 20, and Tricia George, a breast cancer survivor and NHS nurse from Croydon, share their story in World Cancer Research Fund’s (WCRF) Christmas video campaign; “Cancer Doesn’t care about Christmas”.

The series of films feature people affected by cancer talking about Christmas firsts – whether that be their first Christmas with cancer, or with someone special missing from the Christmas table.

In her film, Tricia shares how she felt during her first Christmas with cancer and the various ways she didn’t let cancer ruin her experience of a celebration she loves and enjoys.

Tricia said: “My first Christmas of being on the cancer survivor pathway was a happy one. I was absolutely determined that despite how I was feeling we were going to have a joyous Christmas. So, I set out a schedule, and I paced myself because I was still quite tired but my joy was seeing that Christmas tree go up, the lights, the decorations, the wreath in the window and just seeing things come together.”

Tricia George

Alexandria’s experience was a different one, and in her film she explains the feelings of helplessness from her family, and how she had to deal with many cancer symptoms such as lack of appetite, exhaustion and hair loss.

Alexandria said: “That first Christmas after treatment was so difficult because normally I have a huge appetite, I’m very well known in my family for my appetite and I had very long hair before treatments, and at that point, I had no appetite and no hair and I think my family didn’t really know what to do to help me.

“I wish I had some sort of guide that first Christmas. I think some suggestion on activities that are still Christmas related but would not tire me out and also some recipes or advice on food to suit my altered taste.” Both Tricia and Alexandria are WCRF ‘Cancer Survivor Champions’ – following their own experiences they now work with the charity to support people with cancer, through providing tips and advice on diet, exercise and coping with side-effects.

New YouGov figures* reveal that almost a quarter of Brits (24%) will be affected by cancer this Christmas – with either themselves or someone close to them having cancer, or having lost someone to cancer this year. The figures are slightly higher for London, at 25%.

WCRF have produced a popular recipe booklet designed specifically for people living with cancer who experience taste changes – this booklet was created in collaboration with Ryan Riley; chef and founder of cancer cookery initiative, Life Kitchen. WCRF also has an Eat Well During Cancer guide that helps people living with cancer cope with common side-effects of cancer and cancer treatment.

During this campaign WCRF is raising money to continue funding their vital cancer prevention and survival research and you can help them in their mission – visit their website and #ShowCancerYouCare this Christmas.

Main Pic: Alexandria Mitchell

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