Students are Standing Up To Cancer in support of their teacher
Cathi Taylor, Head of Drama at The Folkestone School for Girls, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer exactly a year ago in October 2015 and although her future is uncertain, she is currently feeling well and continuing to do the job she loves.
Cathi (50) has become a figure in Cancer Research UK’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign. The mum of two said: “the prognosis isn’t great and yet I feel really well, so for now, I want to live as normal a life as possible, spend time with the people I love and continue with a job I really enjoy.”
Cathi, who is married to Ian and Mum to Amy (21) and Jack (19), first became ill in September 2015. She began suffering stomach pains, largely discomfort at the top of her diaphragm. At first she thought it was indigestion or some kind of digestive blockage, but when she had a glass of red wine and it immediately made her feel sick, she realised something was wrong. She went to see her GP who referred her for blood tests, which were followed by an ultrasound scan and a CT scan.
“The consultant said it was a blockage in the pancreas and he was measuring something on the screen. I knew at that moment it was cancer,” said Cathi.
Her immediate thought was for her children. “I decided not to tell the kids until I had a treatment plan. I needed to know what to tell them. My mind was racing,” she said.
Cathi immediately began a course of intensive treatment, including a stent, a Whipples operation to remove the head of the pancreas, followed by six months of chemotherapy. Initially, doctors thought the cancer had not spread, but they then discovered it was in her lymph nodes.
Cathi doesn’t know exactly what the future holds, so her philosophy is to cherish every minute of the present. “Being with my family is a great joy and I enjoy each minute,” she said. “It’s hard not to think about the end, but when I’m doing that, I’m missing the present - and that’s just too precious to miss.”
She also wants to try to make a difference, which is why she and the school have thrown themselves into supporting the Stand Up To Cancer campaign.
The school has chosen Cancer Research UK as its national charity of the year - Tracy Luke, Principal at the school added “we are just keen to do everything we can to raise awareness of cancer, as we know from experience that it impacts on us all. Like any large organisation we have people who have had cancer, have cancer and will have cancer in the future. This is a caring school and we want to do our bit in making the future better for everyone”
For the photographs, Cathi was surrounded by her sixth form and year 11 drama students, plus two others also affected by cancer - Sophie Harris (13), who is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and Evie Hacker (11), who has been treated for Burkitts lymphoma. Both girls are recipients of Cancer Research UK’s Kids & Teens Star awards for bravery.
Every day, around 130 people are diagnosed with cancer in the South East.
Cancer Research UK is encouraging others to get involved in the Stand Up To Cancer campaign. By doing so, they will be uniting with doctors, nurses, scientists and celebrities to generate funds, raise awareness and help accelerate progress in life-saving cancer research.
There are many ways to get involved - raising money at work, school or at home via fancy dress days and sponsored silences to bake sales and open mic nights.
Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Kent, said: “Cathi, her students and the school have been brilliant at standing up to cancer with us.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It leaves its mark on us all.
“So we have to act now. We’re on the brink of a revolution in cancer research - thanks to new treatments, screening and earlier diagnosis, more people are surviving the disease than ever before.
“But we simply can’t afford to stand still. It’s time to take a stand against cancer, raise money and save lives.
Research is our best weapon against this terrible disease and we’re asking everyone in Kent to stand up with us.”
People can show their support for the campaign in style with range of clothing and accessories for men, women and children, available online at standuptocancer.org.uk
The range includes special edition Henry Holland designed t-shirts (£9.99) hoodies (£25) pin badges (£1) wristbands (£0.99) digital watches (£2.49) and umbrellas (£2.99).
For more information and to get involved please visit: www.standuptocancer.org.uk