This year, Matthew Norris is paying tribute to his mam, Angela, in a very special way. He will be completely shaving off his lockdown locks to fundraise for lung cancer research and support for people like his mam. Ahead of Mother’s Day, Matt wanted to share his story to highlight just how important an early diagnosis of lung cancer is.
“Mam provided unconditional love and support to me and my siblings, whether we were pursuing our dreams or making mistakes, she was always there for us.
As her youngest child, I was always her baby. We had a special bond, especially after my eldest sister died and Mam became more protective of us all. We enjoyed spending time together and were very close, even more so after her diagnosis and I became her primary carer.
Mam loved gardening and won several awards for her garden. Her real passion though, was family. She lived for her children and grandchildren. She found no greater pleasure than spending time with them all, whether that was playing in the pool or taking them to the park.
My happiest memory is when I took her and my niece to a local park for a picnic. We were sat on the bench enjoying our food when a group of geese and swans surrounded us, trying to get to our lunch! She was smiling and laughing in a way I had rarely seen, truly happy to be there spending time with her granddaughter and me.
During the first lockdown, Mam just didn’t feel right in herself. She experienced increased fatigue, a cough, and breathlessness. All what we now know are common signs of lung cancer. Eventually, she developed hoarseness in her voice to the extent she could barely speak.
As lockdown progressed, it became clear that this wasn’t just her COPD acting up. It was something that really needed to be looked into.
Mam was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer on July 23rd, 2020, shortly after her 65th birthday. The nodule that turned out to be lung cancer was actually identified back in autumn 2019 during a routine scan. We wanted her to undergo a wedge resection, but doctors felt it best to observe the nodule since it was very small.
Then sadly with delays from the pandemic, the nodule was not re-scanned and diagnosed until it had developed into extensive stage. Mam started on palliative chemotherapy, but she developed broncho-pneumonia and passed away just three months after her diagnosis.
Why I’m fundraising for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
After losing her, I wanted to do something to support a charity who helps people like Mam. That’s why I chose to support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation in my sponsored head shave.
I set a fundraising goal of £650 since my Mam was 65 when she passed away. Whatever we raise is going to be split 50/50 between Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and Oxford Children’s Hospital. In the last few years of her life, Mam dedicated a lot of her time supporting the hospital, delivering presents to many of the wards. So, it felt right to support them in my fundraising too.
The funds raised have just hit the halfway mark, so my first step was dyeing my hair grey… watch out Phillip Schofield, there’s a new silver fox in town! Hopefully not for long though, if we hit the £650 mark, I’ll be shaving my head completely! I’m a little apprehensive but excited as it is for two tremendous causes.
In fundraising for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, I’m hoping to raise awareness of lung cancer and to contribute, in even a small way, to funding research to hopefully improve treatments and early diagnosis of lung cancer.
Early diagnosis is so important. An earlier diagnosis would have given my mam more time with us. An earlier diagnosis would have given us more time to secure support for her in those final weeks.
If we’d have got that diagnosis earlier, treatment could have started earlier. Then, she may have been stable enough to get through the broncho-pneumonia. It would have given us more quality time with our Mam before she became too poorly.
Time is of the essence when it comes to lung cancer and ignoring symptoms doesn’t make it go away. That’s why if you have any concerns about possible lung cancer symptoms, you must report them to you doctor. Even if those symptoms do turn out to be lung cancer; the earlier your diagnosis, the more chances of there being treatments to improve your prognosis or even chances of treatment curative intent”.
To keep up to date with Matt’s fundraising and to donate, visit his fundraising page here.