UWE Bristol student raises awareness of lymphatic cancer through viral video

Issue date: 03 November 2011

UWE Bristol alumna, Kathryn Fish, who studied Media and Cultural studies, has taken part in a video to raise awareness of lymphoma, the most common cancer in the under 30's.

Kathryn was in her final year at UWE when she was treated for the disease. Her story is being retold through a viral video just released on YouTube, to enable wider recognition and understanding among young people of the symptoms of the disease.

The Lymphoma Association, a national cancer charity, released the stop motion animation of a Barbie doll getting ready for a night out to raise awareness of lymphoma, the most common cancer in the under 30s.

The film is narrated by Kathryn who discovered a lump about the size of a golf ball on her neck whilst putting on fake tan before a night out. At first she thought it must have been some sort of a cyst but a month after having it investigated by her GP, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Kathryn underwent 6 months of chemotherapy at the Teenage Cancer Trust SkyPad unit at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff and went into remission in February 2011. Incredibly, Kathryn was able to continue with her studies whilst receiving the treatment for lymphoma and graduated in July 2011.

Kathryn said “What if I hadn't decided to put on fake tan that night? I might not have found the lump because how often, really, do you feel your neck? I'm scared other people out there will have the same thing I had and will not know.” She added “It's been a crazy year, a real whirlwind from when it all started but thankfully I am now 100% better.”

The Lymphoma Association's PITS campaign, backed by the Department of Health, aims to raise awareness of lymphoma amongst university students, as it is the most common cancer in the under 30s. The symptoms of lymphoma, persistent lumps, itching, tiredness and sweating (hence the acronym PITS), are easy to mistake for the consequences of a busy student lifestyle which involves a lot of socialising and studying and can leave people feeling exhausted and run down.

During September and October, The Lymphoma Association stopped off at 13 university fresher's fairs to tell students about the symptoms of lymphoma and during Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week (12 to 18 September) the campaign featured on ITV Central evening news.

The Lymphoma Association's PITS campaign coordinator, Dave Owen, said: “People should regularly check their neck, armpits and groin for any lumps and be empowered to visit their GP if they are concerned about anything.”

You can watch the full two minute film at www.youtube.com/takeaPITStop.

Lymphoma Facts

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system, which forms part of the body's immune system. Lymphoma is currently the 5th most common cancer diagnosed by clinicians in the UK. It is the most common cancer affecting the under 30s. In the UK, around 1,730 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma and over 11,800 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed each year. That is a total of over 13,400 new cases of lymphoma a year. It is estimated that approximately 75,000 people in the UK are currently living with the disease. Treatment varies according to the type and stage of the lymphoma, and a person's individual situation. Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and antibody therapy. Increasingly patients are being treated with stem cell transplants. www.lymphomas.org.uk

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