A family from Charleston are planning to shave their heads together to raise funds for Ninewells Hospital, after staff supported mum Tricia during her battle with cancer.
Tricia Thompson will be braving the shave alongside her 16-year-old son, Lucas, and partner, Allan on July 11.
Tricia, 50, was diagnosed with high grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May 2019 “almost completely by accident”.
She said: “It’s one of those cancers that’s very, very hard to detect. The only reason mine was detected was because the disease had actually expelled from the lymph nodes in my knee and formed tumours which caused pain.
“It probably went undiagnosed for about 18 months because the symptoms are night sweats, fatigue, and fluid retention which – for a woman in her late 40s – could cover all manner of things.”
Tricia, who works as a urology waiting list secretary for the NHS, said that she felt she had received the “Cadillac of treatment” by those looking after her at the hospital’s haematology unit (Ward 34) and now wanted to give thanks.
“I had six rounds of chemotherapy then, in between the last three rounds, I also had in-patient chemotherapy as well. It was a lot of treatment over a relatively short period of time,” she said.
“When you’re under the treatment of the haematology department, you’ve got 24-hour access. They’re so fabulous – they’ve got a number during the day and a number you can call after hours and they’re just so accessible, wonderful and professional. It’s magnificent.
“It’s almost like a little hospital within the hospital – you see the same staff and the same faces. I felt so supported and so cared for.”
Despite receiving her first remission notification in November, Tricia began to feel unwell again in May.
She returned to the hospital where she received blood tests and a repeat CT scan. Fortunately, last week the results came back and she was told that everything was fine.
Tricia said: “It’s obviously a culmination of things building up during lockdown.
“Looking back on it now, the symptoms were reminiscent of what I was feeling when I was going through treatment. In my more recent visit with the hospital, they were great. You weren’t made to feel like you were a burden.
“Off the back of that, I wanted to do something to raise funds for the unit and also to raise awareness about the condition because although you often hear about things on a television programme, or in a movie, I knew nothing about this type of cancer.
“There’s no pain associated with it and so many cancers, for men and women, have interchangeable symptoms that could be masking as something else.”
Tricia, whose hair has just grown back in following her chemotherapy, said: “I lost my hair around three-and-a-half or four weeks into treatment – it was very aggressive.
“When I started my treatment I got my hair cut from shoulder-length into a short, almost pixie-cut style. When it started to fall out, I thought ‘no, I’m not letting this disease take my hair.’
“I went to my hairdresser, who’s also a very good friend, and I just shaved my head. I couldn’t take control of many things but I knew that this disease was not getting my hair. I was going to take that myself.”
Tricia, who also has a son, Ross, and daughter, Simone, said that the support she has received from her loved ones over the past year has been “amazing”.
She said: “My 16-year-old son, Lucas, is doing it [the shave] with me, alongside my partner, Allan. They’re showing solidarity.
“They know that I got absolutely wonderful treatment. I had such amazing support from my friends and family.
“We’re going to set up a gazebo in my communal back garden and my hairdresser’s colleague is going to be coming along and doing it in the garden for us.”
Heather Whatley, senior charge nurse in the haematology ward said: “I would like to thank Tricia and her family for the effort being put in to raise funds for the haematology unit.
“Patients and their loved ones benefit greatly from money donated to provide the extras to make their visits a bit easier.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Tricia’s fundraiser can do so by heading over to GoFundMe and searching Brave the Shave Charities Trust.