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Mum of 3 cancer-free after clinical trial at The Christie

Press release posted 24 June 2024

A mother of 3 young children from Leigh in Greater Manchester is cancer-free thanks to a new drug, used in combination with radiotherapy and chemotherapy, being trialled at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

Lyndsey Ainscough, 40, who is married to Christian, and has 3 children, Perry aged 4, Spencer aged 8 and Alfie aged 12 years, went to her GP after seeing ‘You, Me and the Big C’ podcaster Dame Deborah James on the news, who at the time was in her last weeks of life and sadly died of bowel cancer aged 40 in June 2022.

“I had noticed dark blood when going to the toilet and was losing weight. I’d put it down to a change in lifestyle during the pandemic and thought the bloated tummy was IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), but when I saw ‘Bowel Babe’, who was a similar age to me, on breakfast TV something just clicked and I suddenly thought, what if I have the same? So, I decided to make an appointment to see a doctor straight away. I have her to thank for that,” Lyndsey explained.

In June 2022, the school attendance manager, who was just 38 at the time, had a colonoscopy and then a biopsy which gave her the devastating diagnosis she had stage 3 rectal cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes. Looking back Lyndsey said: “It was the worst time of my life. I took my husband, mum and dad with me to get the results of the biopsy and I was in shock when I learnt it was stage 3. I just looked at them and couldn’t take it in, as I wasn’t expecting the cancer to be that advanced.

“The worry was tremendous, particularly with having such young children. We decided to tell our eldest Alfie, who accepted it quite well as he could see mummy was unwell. But Spencer is a worrier so we chose to give him as little detail as possible, and Perry, our daughter, was only 2 so wouldn’t have understood.

“Another blow came when we found out the tumour, which was 5cm in size, was on the outer lining of the bowel so couldn’t be removed by surgery and I had to have a stoma** fitted to allow the bowel to rest before I could begin treatment.”

A photo of Christie patient Lyndsey Ainscough, her husband Christian and her children, Perry Spencer and Alfie in a park.
Lindsey and her family

Lyndsey, was an active person playing netball twice a week and a regular gym-goer before her illness, was then referred to The Christie in July 2022 and in the September agreed to take part in the PRIME RT trial and received radiotherapy together with chemotherapy tablets for five weeks alongside a new immunotherapy*** drug called Durvalumab. The aim of this combined treatment was to shrink the size of the tumour. The trial drug was given intravenously every 4 weeks for 16 weeks. Lyndsey then had 4 sessions of chemotherapy before completing her treatment in January 2023 and was given the all-clear.  She now just returns for 3-monthly scans and monitoring. Lyndsey has since undergone 2 operations which has included a stoma reversal in September 2023.

Lyndsey, who is back working full-time at a local high school, and planning a return to netball, said: “If you are offered a clinical trial take it with both hands and treat it as a positive opportunity to fight the cancer. See it as a chance to defy all negative expectations and change the narrative. Be proud to be able to contribute to helping other families that continue to be affected.

“A complete response to the trial means I can now make the most of life and appreciate quality time with all my family. I was able to celebrate my 40th birthday on our family holiday last summer and see Alfie play rugby at Wembley. Christian and I are now looking forward to celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this summer and seeing Perry start school in September. Cancer does not discriminate and affects people from all walks of life. The one thing it does consistently is bring fear and uncertainty to the lives of people who least expect it, so if we can all share stories and offer support to each other then we continue Bowel Babe’s legacy to always have ‘Rebellious Hope’.” 

Dr Claire Arthur, consultant oncologist at The Christie said: “We’re really pleased with Lyndsey’s outcome from the clinical trial.  There’s no evidence of the tumour and she tolerated her treatment for rectal cancer really well. In Lyndsey’s case the trial drug worked and we can’t see any remaining cancer and she’s had a complete response to the treatment which is wonderful and means she can now enjoy time with her young family.

“We’re seeing an increase in colorectal cancers in young adults, so it’s important people who have possible symptoms don’t delay going to their GP and getting checked out. The earlier this disease is caught, the better the outcome.”

The PRIME RT trial completed recruitment in May 2023, including 42 patients across five UK sites including Aberdeen, Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Manchester and Oxford. The CRUK Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit is leading the PRIME RT trial and it is sponsored by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde / University of Glasgow with funding from Astra Zeneca and support from Cancer Research UK.

Treatment for rectal cancer can be different compared to cancers that arise elsewhere in the bowel.

When patients are referred to The Christie to discuss their cancer treatment, details regarding potential clinical trials they may be suitable for will be discussed. Together, the patient and clinical team will decide whether it is appropriate to proceed with a trial or not. More information about taking part in clinical trials can be found on our taking part in studies and trials page.

* The rectum is a chamber at the end of the large intestines and forms part of the bowel.

**A stoma is an opening made during surgery. It connects the bowel to the surface of the abdomen so that faeces can pass through it and be collected into a small bag attached externally to the body. A stoma can be permanent, but in some cases, like Lyndsey’s, it can be reversed.

***Immunotherapy works by stimulating the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.

Last updated: June 2024