A MUM who is battling a cancer so rare that medics have never treated it before has undergone major surgery to remove her pelvis and rebuild her stomach muscles using tissue from her leg.
Brave Stephanie Thomson was diagnosed with extra skeletal renal rhabdoid cancer after noticing a small pea-sized lump on her groin.
The 33-year-old is now having regular chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow as she bids to recover from gruelling surgery that lasted more than eight hours.
Stephanie told the Glasgow Times: “My cancer is so rare that my oncologist had never come across it before and I’m the first patient to be treated for it at the Beatson.
“It has been a difficult journey and I’m recovering well. It was an eight-and-a-half-hour operation to remove my pubic bone and the amazing surgeons were able to use muscle from my thigh to reconstruct my abdominal wall. It’s just incredible what they can do now and I feel very lucky to have such wonderful people looking after me.
“I’ve got a long road ahead, but I’m staying positive and doing everything I can to fight this. Nobody ever wants to hear that they have cancer, it came as a massive shock and it has changed my life. I’ve gone from working in a busy job to spending weeks at a time in a hospital bed. I just feel so fortunate to have such expert care to guide me through."
Salon manager Stephanie, from Elderslie in Renfrewshire, says she has been supported by family and friends who have been by her side during her darkest hour.
She admits she was moved to tears after her sister Michelle Fulton and best friend Nicola Kerr tackled their fear of heights to abseil off the Falkirk Wheel to raise vital funds for Maggie’s in Glasgow, which has been supporting Stephanie since her diagnosis last year.
Stephanie, who also has 17-year-old son Logan, said: “I just can’t believe how brave they both were - I was in of awe of them taking on such a big challenge.
“They are both terrified of heights but they wanted to give something back to the wonderful charity that has helped me so much. My chemo session had just finished for a fortnight so I was able to get out of the hospital to go along and watch them.
“It was really emotional seeing them at the top before they took the plunge. They are just superstars and managed to raise over £900 for Maggie’s. Incredibly, they loved it so much that they are already planning to zip-slide across the River Clyde in September.
“It was their way of thanking Maggie's for being such a fantastic support to me. Just being able to pop along to the centre for a cup of tea and a chat or a yoga class has helped me enormously. I’ve connected with so many people who are also on a cancer journey and has made a world of difference during a very difficult time."
Stephanie still has months of treatment ahead of her and has also battled cellulitis, e-coli and sepsis. She’s also committed to helping others after her online appeal for covers for syringe drivers went viral.
She added: “The hospital was short of syringe bags and mine kept falling and breaking. I put an appeal out a few months ago, asking if anyone could knit or had some spare small bags and I was totally blown away by the response from all over Scotland.
“So many kind-hearted people have stepped up to help. I was stunned by how many folk of all ages have pitched in and I had enough to donate covers to the Beatson, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, St Vincent's Hospice and several others.
“The support I’ve received has just been incredible and it’s given me the courage to stay strong and keep fighting."