A brave mum fighting cancer has made it her mission to raise awareness.
Emma Richards, 38, of Sandling Way, St Mary’s Island, was diagnosed with grade three breast cancer at the end of October after finding a tiny lump.
A month later she got the news she also had stage four bowel cancer which had spread to her liver.
Unusually both cancers are primary meaning they have developed entirely independently.
The mother-of-two said: “It’s so important that women and men check daily for signs of breast cancer. It affects everyone and sometimes lumps are really small.”
Emma has had ulcerative colitis since she was 15 so has always been told she was at greater risk of developing bowel cancer but warned of the taboo around the subject.
She said: “People shouldn’t be embarrassed about talking about the signs of bowel cancer or getting checked out. Constipation, bleeding and diarrhoea are all things to look out for.
“If you experience any change in your body you need to go to your GP.
“I’d also urge everyone to get life insurance with critical care cover. I was in the process of applying when I was diagnosed. If I had been told just how important it was when I was younger I would have definitely got it done sooner.”
The Highsted Grammar School design and technology teacher is due to start a 12-week course of chemotherapy today.
At first she’d been preparing to embrace a wig but it turns out the type of treatment she will receive does not result in hair loss.
“If you experience any change in your body you need to go to your GP.” â€” Emma Richards
She said: “I didn’t mind too much about losing my hair, I was going to rock it, but I was absolutely elated when I found out it wasn’t going to happen.
“It was great to be able to give people some positive news.”
Emma is well known around the Towns.
In addition to setting up a community Facebook page for St Mary’s Island she’s held a charity photography competition for the past two years and also runs Life Right Now Photography, taking pictures of families and new borns in her spare time.
She’s hoping that platform will mean her overwhelming positivity and message of awareness will reach as many people as possible.
“If I can stop it happening to someone else then that’s great,” she said.
Emma is now being treated at Guys and St Thomas’ in London and is having to travel back and forth repeatedly, she’s also using complimentary medicines such as CBD oil, a popular option which isn’t available on the NHS and costs Â£130 for a two-week course.
She said: “I’ve never had cancer before so when people asked me what they could do to help I didn’t really know. That’s why my friends set up the page, so that everyone could have a goal to work towards.
“It also helps me raise awareness and let people know how I’m getting on.”
So far Â£10,000 has been donated.