Get checked, mother with rare cancer urges
A MOTHER who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – after suffering no symptoms – is calling on Islanders to have regular medical check-ups to ensure they are fit and well.
Forty-one-year-old Karryna says the past month has been a ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ after she was told the ‘devastating’ news that she had cancer which had spread to her liver.
Medics have told Karryna, that her ‘odds of survival is one to five years’, but the mother-of-two says she is remaining positive, adding: ‘I’ve got to get through it for my children and my husband’.
‘Once you hear the word cancer, you think: “Oh my God”,’ Karryna, mum to Kristal (9) and Holli OK(5), said. ‘You think about dying but it is not all gloom and doom. People do get better.
‘Half of the battle is being positive and strong. If you are, you will get through it.
‘If you are negative that’s when things go wrong. I’m so positive. I know I will get through it.’
Karryna, whose 48-year-old husband Paul recently had to undergo a heart operation in Oxford, was diagnosed on 2 February.
‘It’s a rare anal cancer – which is where it started – and has moved to my liver,’ the office manager for Altair Partners Limited said.
‘My liver has 20 tumours. As it is really diseased they can’t give me a transplant. They have to try to reduce the tumours first.
‘I had no symptoms whatsoever. I could have had it for two years. I had some bleeding in my back passage but I thought it could be haemorrhoids.
‘I went to the doctor in January after I had been on a ski trip. She had a look. She could feel there was something there and ordered some blood tests.
‘My liver bloods were really high but there was nothing to compare it to – I’m not a sick person, I don’t really go to the doctor’s. Last time I had bloods was when I was pregnant five years ago.’
Following the check-up, Karryna’s doctor referred her for an ultrasound.
‘Within two hours they asked me to come in and see them,’ she said. ‘Still, I didn’t think there was anything different or unusual. Fortunately, I took my husband with me.
‘When we got there, there were two cups of tea and a box of tissues. I still didn’t think anything, though.
‘She gave me the news but I didn’t cry or get upset. My husband was devastated. But I was asking: “How am I going to get through this? What is the treatment?” I was asking so many questions.
‘I’m a very positive, strong person but it is devastating news to hear. I’ve got two small children. I didn’t know how long I would be around for. What my life expectancy would be.’
Karryna, who praised the treatment and support she has received from the Hospital’s oncology department, has finished her first of six rounds of chemotherapy, which requires an intravenous drip followed by 14 days of tablets.
‘It has gone really well,’ she said. ‘I’ve had a few bad days but the chemo is working. The Hospital are really pleased with me. I feel really well at the moment but I know it is a long road ahead.
‘They will see how it goes. The first scan is in April and they will see what has happened to the liver. They don’t think they can cure it. Hopefully they can manage it but they don’t know how I’m going to react or cope with it.
‘I’ve got to play it by ear. They have said my odds of survival is one to five years. Everyone is different. I’m not going to look into the future, there is no point. I’m going to take every day as it comes.’
Karryna, who has no family history of cancer, said that she ‘never ever thought’ she would get the disease.
‘To start with I was angry,’ she said. ‘I’m fit and healthy. I look after my body and eat a balanced diet. It was such a shock. The more people I speak to and hear their cancer stories the more I realise I’m not on my own. There are success stories.’
Karryna has urged people to have regular medical check-ups.
‘If you have not been checked for quite a while, have a blood test and get checked out, it is worth it,’ she said. ‘Cancer can happen to anybody.
‘You do a MoT on your car every year why not on your body? It is the most important thing. If I had done that when I was 40, it would have probably been picked up.’
After hearing of Karryna’s illness, friend Jane Young decided to organise a fundraising raffle and dinner dance to help pay for the family go on holiday.
‘The family have had a really hard time and I know she would be the first in the queue to help anyone,’ she said.
Karryna says she has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the support of her family and friends, as well as La Moye School, which her daughters attend. She added that she was also touched by the fundraising efforts.
‘I feel so humble that everyone is doing this for me,’ she said. ‘I can’t believe their generosity and support.’
Anyone who would like to donate should contact Jane on 07797 768669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.