A Linlithgow woman treated for a rare cancer is taking on a charity challenge to raise money for the hospital team that saved her life.

Wendy Shepherd, aged 68, was diagnosed with an incredibly rare appendix tumour and was referred to the peritoneal oncology team at The Christie in Manchester – a specialist cancer hospital which is 1 of only 2 centres in the UK which treats these kind of tumours. And in June last year, she underwent surgery, going on to make a full recovery.

Wendy, who had never set foot in a gym before, decided to boost her return to health by getting fit and joined a local gym – and with its support has now organised a sponsored triathlon to celebrate her recovery, which she is hoping to complete on Monday 29 August.

She said: “I had pain which felt like period pain, so initially I was investigated for ovarian problems, but following some initial surgery in Edinburgh, it was diagnosed as an appendix tumour, which if left untreated, can spread to the abdominal cavity and may result in a rare cancer known as pseudomyxoma peritonei. Being faced with a rare cancer left me feeling dazed, confused and very alone. I had so many unanswered questions. I will always be grateful for the expertise and skill of my amazing surgeon Professor Omer Aziz and for the excellent care I received from the entire peritoneal oncology team in Manchester. Thankfully I made a good recovery and my recent follow up check showed no signs of the disease recurring.”

Wendy, who is retired and lives with partner Bentley in West Lothian, added: “Having never been to a gym in all of my 67 years, I know this is going to challenge me. My local gym Xcite Linlithgow prepared a training plan for me which helped to improve my level of fitness over a number of weeks and I now feel ready to undertake my challenge - 50 lengths of the pool, a 5 kilometre bike ride in the gym and 5 kilometres on the treadmill.
“A cancer journey can be a very lonely experience, but with a rare cancer, that feeling of loneliness can be profound. The Christie team cared for me and showed me I was not alone, and, they continue to do this for many other patients. I am undertaking this challenge to raise funds for the vital work being done by The Christie peritoneal oncology team in the field of appendix cancers and PMP, and, to raise awareness of these types of tumours so more patients like me can benefit.”

The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.