Posted on Wednesday 9 December 2020
A grandmother who received chemotherapy treatment during lockdown is urging people to get cancer symptoms checked out, and not to fear coming to hospital.
Sharon Goddard was referred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ in June after being diagnosed with stage 3 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of cancer develops in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body.
Sharon, from Bermondsey in south east London, said: “Getting a cancer diagnosis is tough at any time, but it was particularly daunting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In normal circumstances you would have family around but I had to keep a distance from everyone and I couldn’t cuddle my grandchildren. It was hard not having my husband, Paul, there with me at all the appointments, but he was on loudspeaker so I wouldn’t forget anything.”
The 55-year-old added: “Everything moved at such a pace and I was amazed at how quickly I started my treatment. I felt apprehensive the first time I had chemotherapy, but the nurses were brilliant and the atmosphere was calm – everyone was there for the same reason. I was offered counselling and was given lots of useful information.
“I always felt safe going into the Cancer Centre at Guy’s. They checked everyone’s temperature before going in and made you wash your hands. I found it comforting to see every single person wearing a mask and hand sanitiser everywhere.”
A few weeks after starting her treatment, Sharon started to lose her hair.
The mother-of-three, who has six grandchildren, said: “I cried for about an hour the day my hair started to fall out because of the shock, but after that I was fine. My head started to really hurt like it was sunburnt or had been pulled so I decided to shave it all off.
“Positivity is how I have dealt with everything so I wanted to use the opportunity to raise money for charity – and there was no one better to fundraise for than the people treating me.”
Sharon set out to raise £100 for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity but after a video of her head shave was shared online, more than £3,600 rolled in.
She said: “I’ve been so overwhelmed by all the support. I wasn’t nervous about shaving off my hair because you can wear a wig, or a hat or a scarf. I was quite happy to have a bald head because I knew it would grow back, but I wanted to show other people that it can be a positive thing.”
Sharon is now in remission and is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with her family.
Dr David Wrench, a consultant haematologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “It is lovely to hear of Sharon’s wonderful fundraising and I am glad she had a reassuring experience during the successful treatment of her lymphoma. It is particularly important at this challenging time due to COVID-19 to emphasise that we continue to treat patients with lymphoma and do this in a very safe environment.
“I encourage anyone with symptoms suggestive of lymphoma – particularly persisting unexplained lumps, weight loss, tiredness, night sweats, fevers or itching – to ensure they are reviewed by their doctor. The earlier we pick up this cancer, the more patients will have as good an outcome as Sharon.”
To support Sharon’s fundraising, visit the Virgin Money Giving website.
Watch Sharon's head shave for Guy's Cancer on YouTube.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity raises money for big things and small touches that make our life-saving care even better and help our patients and their families feel really looked after. For more information on fundraising visit the Support Guy's and St Thomas' website.