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Cancer survivor says 'I'm so lucky'

PUBLISHED: 11:11 30 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:24 05 July 2010

Lowestoft cancer survivor Janine Long.

Lowestoft cancer survivor Janine Long.

She has suffered three different cancers by the age of 23 - but Janine Long says she feels like the luckiest woman alive.

At the age of 18 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer after a routine smear test, and later had to be operated on again after the cancer spread to her womb.

She has suffered three different cancers by the age of 23 - but Janine Long says she feels like the luckiest woman alive.

At the age of 18 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer after a routine smear test, and later had to be operated on again after the cancer spread to her womb.

Then last year, a lump in her breast turned out to be cancerous; and early this year, the second breast was removed after cancer was found there too.

Meanwhile, she is waiting to find out whether a tumour removed from her stomach was cancerous.

The former model from Lowestoft risked her own life after accidentally becoming pregnant during her chemotherapy nearly three years ago. The chemotherapy would have damaged her unborn son Logan, who is her younger child, so she stopped the treatment until after the birth, putting her own health at risk.

Now she is planning a parachute jump to raise money for St Mark's Church in Oulton Broad, whose clergy and congregation have supported her, and for a breast cancer charity, which she is still deciding on. The date is expected to be in November.

The mother of two has suffered more misfortune than most people do in their lifetimes. But she said: “I still know I am the luckiest person alive. I have got my kids and my family, my other half. I still cook my kids' tea and help them build their Lego. My kids call me 'mum' every day.

“I want to inspire people. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Jade Goody has cervical cancer, but you don't have to be a big someone to do something in your life. If you have got someone in your life, like children or family, they need you, and that is the most important thing. I want people to know they are not alone.”

When she found out she was pregnant with Logan, now nearly two, she did not hesitate. She was already a mother to Jourdain, now five, but had once feared she might never have children because of ovary problems.

“The doctors basically said that it was 'your baby lives but you might die, or your baby dies but you might live, or in a worst-case scenario you both die'.

“I was already a mum and when you are given a choice of your child's life or your own life, your child comes first. Motherly instincts are the most powerful thing in the whole world. I couldn't have given his life up for no reason.”

Amazingly, both mother and child survived. Miss Long finished her latest round of chemotherapy two weeks ago, and hopes she has put a difficult five years behind her. She still has test results to come, as well as operations on her teeth which were damaged by the chemotherapy.

She is thankful that she has kept most of her hair despite the treatment, though it is no longer as thick as it was when she used to model for brands like Timotei shampoo, Dove and Pretty Polly stockings. Now she is taking a break while she recovers, but hopes to work in forensic science in future.

She said: “I want to say heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped me: my nan and granddad, my mum and dad and my friends, and especially my other half, Joe Collier.”

Helen Jary, curate at St Mark's Church, said: “I am delighted that she is doing the jump. She feels she has had a lot of support from the church and wants to do something in return.

“She is unwell but she is such an upbeat person. She wants to give something back. She is just amazing.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation can send it care of St Mark's Church, Bridge Road, Oulton Broad NR33 9JX. Cheques should be made payable to St Mark's PCC or Janine Long.

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