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Karen, 60, from Prenton, faced the clippers to raise money for the cancer support centre on Wirral and says: “I was going to lose my hair anyway so I thought I might as well raise some money by getting it over with now.
“We’ve collected about £1,500 so far and it’s still coming in. That money will support Maggie’s in helping other people like me – and they’re amazing.”
She admits: “It was sad to see it go and being bald does take some getting used to.
“But the plus side is that it takes a lot less time to get myself ready now!”
Maggie’s has already praised Karen who they say is ‘absolutely rocking her new hairdo’.
And they add: “Karen is inspirational. Her bravery and courage is admirable and we can’t thank her enough for making such an incredible decision.”
But it’s not just the shave for which Karen deserves praise. She is one of a number of people who have faced delays in cancer care and treatment because of COVID, delays which may have changed her prognosis.
And yet, while she admits to moments of anger and regret, Karen says she is determined to stay positive.
“I’m a firm believer that attitude and positivity is part of the battle with cancer and I’m determined not to give up.
“I’ve got my family and so many wonderful friends who are supporting me, as well as Maggie’s, and I’ve got too much to look forward to.”
Karen ran her own pet services company offering day care, boarding, and home visits, before being diagnosed with colon and bowel cancer in 2018 – two years after her husband Alan faced the same illness.
She underwent surgery to remove the large tumour and although, unlike Alan who’s now well, she didn’t have chemotherapy afterwards, she was told the cancer had been removed and was hopeful of the same outcome.
It was towards the end of last year – having had all her check-up appointments cancelled throughout much of the pandemic – that Karen received shattering news.
“It was September and I had what I thought was the worst migraine in the world. After six days, they sent me for a CT scan,” reveals Karen. “It was then I was told the cancer had spread to my brain and lungs.
“Two days later I was in Walton having the tumour removed, and now I’m having chemo to treat the tumours in my lungs. So far they have managed to shrink them to half the size.
“My condition is not curable, but it is treatable.”
Karen says when she first found out she had cancer she kept the news to herself, but this time around she decided to tell people about it, in the hope she could inspire others to stay positive and raise money for centres like Maggie’s.
“I didn’t realise how hard it would be to keep it to myself, and I’ve had such good support from friends and family. They are always dropping off presents, like a pamper box this morning, meals and lemon drizzle cake (I can’t taste much, but I can taste lemon drizzle cake!). People are so caring.
“And their help, and the support of Maggie’s, is what’s getting me through. I didn’t realise that every £1,000 Maggie’s is given pays for a course, like counselling for someone, for a whole year. And I can vouch for how much that means for someone like me. Maggie’s is my oasis and I couldn’t have got through this without them – I wouldn’t want others not to have that same help and that’s why I decided to do the Shave and raise money, helped by my daughters, Alice, Emily and Molly.”
Karen, who also has a son, Ben, says she hasn’t asked her ‘wonderful’ consultant at Clatterbridge how much time she has left.
“I’m not asking the question because I don’t think I want to know the answer. Why don’t I cave in? Well, I do sometimes, but most of the time I want to be strong for others, and be positive.
“I hope I’ve got a lot of time ahead because I’ve got so much to live for. I want to see my children get married and have children of their own, and maybe even do my old job again which I loved.
“I have survived so far and I’m not giving up now. I appreciate every day, and every little thing, and if I can help others to do that too, I’ll be happy.”
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