GET SUPPORT GET CONNECTED Your Voices Charlotte What cancer were you diagnosed with? bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) What age were you diagnosed? 27 What has helped you to thrive? Cholangiocarcinoma is such an aggressive but rare cancer, whenever I speak to people they have no idea what it is, like me at the beginning of this rollercoaster. Something that has kept me going is fundraising and coming up with ideas to raise awareness of this devastating disease. There are limited treatments for this cancer, and because there are few symptoms most people don’t find it until it’s too late. Unbelievably, it is responsible for more deaths than cervical cancer and yet most people haven’t heard of it, until we improve awareness, the situation is unlikely to improve. Raising awareness is the first step in helping to shape and fund research into better diagnostic techniques, treatments, and ultimately a cure. I just really want to be able to help towards this. It’s a focus that is helping me get through my treatment. The support I have received from my friends and family has been life-saving for me, I couldn’t have got to this point in my treatment without them. It’s also the kind messages of support I have received from other people, sometimes strangers, which has been overwhelming and has equally kept me positive. I am so grateful. Charlotte's Story In November 2019 I was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma at the age of 27. I know most people are thinking ‘what is that?!’, I thought exactly the same. Cancer of the bile ducts found either inside or outside the liver, it’s a very rare type of cancer and even rarer in people of my age. I’ve really struggled to find anyone going through what I have at my age because most people diagnosed with this cancer are over 60. Mine had spread to the surrounding part of my liver but luckily it was resectable and so in December 2019 I had a third of my liver and my gallbladder removed at QMC in Nottingham which has left me with a big scar on my abdomen. Honestly, the op and recovery were so much tougher than I could ever have imagined, both physically and psychologically. Luckily, I managed to get out of the hospital on Christmas Eve so I got to spend my Christmas Day with my family. I’m in the middle of chemotherapy right now as this cancer is a little devious and is likely to recur. Being on chemo during lockdown is tough but because I’m shielding I get to spend lots of time with my partner and my parents which is so nice... silver lining hey! They have been my rocks and I am truly grateful for them. I try to keep a positive mindset as I can and just take each day as it comes while shielding. That would definitely be my number one piece of advice, you can do it if you just take one day at a time. I hope that sharing my story will help to raise awareness of this rare and devastating disease, encourage people to research and be aware of the signs and symptoms and get involved in desperately needed fundraising.