Chichester teacher with cervical cancer raises more than £4,500 for Macmillan by braving the shave
A Chichester teacher living with cervical cancer has raised more than £4,500 for charity by braving the shave for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Liz Skelcher, 55, who works at Fordwater School in Chichester, was diagnosed in January 2019 and, after six weeks of chemotherapy and daily radiotherapy, received the all-clear six months later – but the cancer returned earlier this year and she was told it had spread and is now unlikely to be cured.
Liz, who lives in Arundel and is also a Nordic walking instructor, said: “My world stopped spinning momentarily when I heard the dreaded words, ‘I’m really sorry, the cancer has returned and this time it’s unlikely to go away, we can only offer palliative treatment’.
“I asked about statistics for survival rates in my situation and the average survival rate is between 12-18 months – obviously I am aiming to smash that, you can’t get rid of me that easily.
“I had my first chemo on April 16. On arrival at the chemotherapy suite, with no friends to support me due to Covid-19 and the nurses in full PPE, I had a total meltdown.
“My second chemo appointment is with another drug – this one is more toxic and will make me lose my hair, but hopefully it will be more toxic to the cancer too.
“I have decided that I would like to choose when I lose my hair and that’s why I wanted to brave the shave for Macmillan.”
As well as using Macmillan’s website and support line for advice and information, Liz has been a regular visitor to the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton.
She said: “I love Macmillan. All the way through my cancer journey, Macmillan have been and continue to be fantastic.
“I have met some fabulous Macmillan nurses, I love the website for all the information it provides and helps with things I needed to do know on my cancer journey. I have called the Macmillan Helpline on several occasions for help with benefits advice, a grant and general questions.
“The Horizon Centre became like my second home during my first cancer experience. I love that I could go there for a coffee or snack while waiting for an oncology appointment. I would often go there to relax too and I was lucky enough to have some acupuncture sessions.
“I have found the Horizon Centre to be a calm space in a whirling storm and a totally safe space to chill out in whenever I need to.”
While the centre has had to suspend face to face appointments during the coronavirus pandemic, it has developed a comprehensive package of online and phone support to help local people living with cancer.
It has responded to more than 1,500 calls and emails with information and support – from counselling and financial advice to a friendly ear and a chat.
Geoff Brown, Horizon Centre manager, said: “People with cancer need our support more than ever right now. It’s fantastic to hear about how important the Macmillan Horizon Centre has been for Liz and we are doing all we can to continue to be there for people during this pandemic, with a range of phone and online support.
“But as a charity funded by public donations, we are also facing a significant drop in our income and have launched an emergency appeal. So what Liz is doing to raise money couldn’t be more important right now and we are hugely grateful to her.”
Liz said: “I know that times are financially tough right now, but if you can spare anything so that we can raise as much money as possible for Macmillan, that would be so brilliant!”
To donate to Liz’s Brave the Shave appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/liz-brave-the-shave