Stunned woman, 43, discovered two different types of cancer after chance encounter

A stunned skin care consultant from Gloucestershire was stunned to find out she had two different types of cancer in a matter of weeks. 43-year-old Jodi Holland had a chance encounter with a nurse specialist from the Gloucester Royal Hospital who provided Jodi with some cancer awareness leaflets.

These leaflets were in preparation for a workshop she was holding for beauty therapy students that led to her own diagnosis of melanoma weeks later. Her mum Sara died of leukaemia when Jodi was just aged 14, she was also faced with helping her dad David come to terms with the same type of cancer when he was diagnosed in 2018.

Thanks to early diagnosis and to treatments discovered by Cancer Research UK, the consultant from Coopers Edge in Gloucester is backing the charity’s Turning Point for Cancer campaign, and she is calling for the next UK Government to help save more lives from cancer.

READ MORE - Big metal structure that will be supermarket and homes very visible from main road now

READ MORE - Row over huge housing and cyber park project near GCHQ

Jodi is sharing her story to highlight the importance of early diagnosis, understanding your body and what feels right for you, whatever your age. In England, almost half of cancers are still diagnosed at a late stage when they are harder to treat, which Jodi says an incoming Government must address to save more lives.

She explained: “I am passionate about encouraging people to have the confidence to go the GP when they have concerns. My message is for everyone to check yourself and don’t be afraid to see your doctor if you have any concerns and to be able to push for a referral if you think something isn’t right.”

She added: “I was holding a workshop at the time for my students on skin awareness and I was approached by a local nurse from the hospital who asked if I would like some leaflets on skin cancer awareness and what to look out for.

“She went through some training with me on how to spot melanoma and the changing shape and colour of moles. A couple of days later as I was getting out the shower, I noticed a dark black and brownish mole about 6mm in size on my right thigh.

“I went to the GP to get it checked out and as I was referred on to the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, my appointment was with the same nurse who gave me the leaflets and training. Thankfully it was caught early but I needed two separate operations and a wide local excision.”

Whilst recovering at home following the operation, Jodi was washing herself one morning when she felt a lump the size and feel of a marble. She explained: “I couldn’t take a shower at the time as my dressing was still in place from my surgery, so I had been using a flannel to wash when I felt the lump.

“I again went to the appointment on my own thinking it would be OK, but the breast clinic knew what they were dealing with and following an ultrasound and biopsy they told me it was breast cancer. I had to have chemo and as my dad was also being treated for leukaemia at the same time in Bristol, I felt awful having to tell him the news.

“I have had amazing support from friends and sadly when my dad died, I knew that I wanted to help others who feel the loss of themselves through cancer treatment. There have been positives in my journey, and we had the happy ending of my grandson being born on November 11th, on my mum and dad’s wedding anniversary, which has been very special.”

Gloucestershire skin care consultant Jodi Holland
Gloucestershire skin care consultant Jodi Holland found out she had two different types of cancer in a matter of weeks after a chance encounter with a cancer nurse -Credit:Cancer Research

Jodi has been on the drug Herceptin, which Cancer Research UK scientists laid the groundwork for the drug by helping to show that some types of breast cancer have certain proteins on the surface of cancer cells that fuel their growth. The charity led clinical trials to show Herceptin improves survival.

This is now the gold standard of care for this type of breast cancer, helping more women like Jodi live their lives. Thanks to research, Jodi is dedicated to help change the future outlook for cancer patients.

Jodi added: “But research into better treatments and the incredible NHS have given me hope and more precious time. It’s a different story for many and so I’m determined to do everything I can to campaign to help others.”

Cancer Research UK’s calculations reveal that within five years, the next UK Government could help prevent around 550 deaths from the disease in the South West. But this is if a long-term, fully-funded cancer strategy is rapidly rolled out after the election, along with measures to support research and better prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

This could rise to around 3,100 deaths avoided in the region in a decade. Cancer Research said there are "unacceptable" cancer waiting times and an "alarming" £1 billion gap in funding for life-saving research and Jodi believes tackling the disease must be a top election priority for all political parties.

Her call comes as new analysis from the charity reveals around 210,000 people in the South West are projected to be diagnosed with cancer in the next five years. Jodi is urging people across Gloucestershire to call on their local parliamentary candidates to commit to transforming cancer by emailing them before July 4 through this website.

She warns that analysis shows if current trends in cancer death rates continue, without action, the UK is at risk of collectively losing a staggering 13 million years of life to cancer in the first parliamentary term alone.***

She added: “Stories like mine would not be possible without advances in research and treatment. So, it’s distressing to think how many friends, family and colleagues could be affected by the fall-out if we don’t speed up progress in the fight against cancer.

“With so many challenges and funding issues surrounding cancer research and care, it’s vital that saving lives comes before politics. When you hear those terrible words, “It’s cancer,” all you want to know is you – or your loved one – have the best possible chance of surviving. Whoever wins the general election, the next UK Government must help make this a reality for cancer patients everywhere.”

Actors Stephen Graham and Daisy Edgar-Jones, comedian John Bishop and TV presenter Alison Hammond have already lent their support to the campaign.

Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the South West, Alison Birkett, said: “Nearly 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime. It affects every family, in every constituency. So, as political parties reach out to the country, there’s never been a better opportunity to come together and demand the action people affected by the disease so desperately need and deserve. This general election must be a turning point for cancer.

“We’re grateful to Jodi for joining the groundswell of supporters, scientists and stars who are backing our campaign and hope her story will inspire people across the South West to have their say by emailing their local candidates.

“The entire cancer community is calling for the next UK Government to introduce a bold and long-term plan to prevent future cancers and improve survival.

"Urgent action to tackle the disease will mean more life-saving research, more people diagnosed and treated earlier, and ultimately, more people in the region living longer, better lives.”