Allison Pearson, aged 41, from Woodhouse, is backing the newly launched Sheffield Hospitals Lottery, which offers the public and hospital staff the chance to win £25,000 every week. Money raised will help ensure local patients continue to receive outstanding care.
The mum of three explains in detail her medical journey and why she decided to help launch a major city charity’s latest fundraising drive.
Allison said: “At the start of this year, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It was devastating news and I was in complete shock, especially as I hadn’t experienced any symptoms at all.
“After a couple of days away with work, I’d felt really tired and drained, then woke in the night with rectal bleeding. By the Saturday morning it had stopped, so we went to Bramall Lane to watch Sheffield United play just as we always do. But when we were there and I had another two bleeds.
“I was admitted to hospital for a few days and during my stay I needed an urgent blood transfusion. I also had an endoscopy, abdomen scans and x-rays to determine the cause of the bleed, all of which were inconclusive and it was put down to an infection.
“But, randomly, the scan revealed a cyst on my kidney, so as I was leaving I was told that I would receive an appointment to go back for an ultra sound on my kidney, which came through for the following week.
“It was after this that I was told by my GP just before Christmas that it was a tumour and that I was being referred to the urology department at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital for treatment. Despite my best efforts, this obviously had an impact on our Christmas and New Year as I was aware by then that there was a high chance it was cancer.
“Dr Smith, my oncologist talked me through everything. He was so kind, and explained really calmly that the next step was to have a biopsy. I felt completely numb and was so scared. I was given some information leaflets from a reassuring support worker, who explained carefully what to read and what not to read so as not to frighten myself. They also gave me their contact details should I need to get in contact with them.
“I took all the information home and decided not to read them until I felt I could do without breaking down or until the diagnosis was confirmed, whichever came first. My husband took them and read them all straight away, but I hid them in a cupboard. In the end I read them the night before I went for the biopsy.
“A couple of weeks later I went back for the results. It was confirmed that I had kidney cancer. On receiving the diagnosis I was just devastated, although my main concern was to choose the treatment with the least recovery time. I was due to take place in a dance show with my girls and friends at the end of April, and I was also quite busy at work, so it felt like it had all happened at the most inconvenient time possible.
“Dr Smith and my husband persuaded me to have the type of surgery I needed to give me the best chance of having the remaining part of my kidney saved. Due to my age and the fact they wanted to save my kidney if at all possible, I opted to have the part of my kidney taken out which was affected, leaving me just half a kidney left. It was major surgery.
“Keyhole surgery was not an option for me because the tumour was so deeply buried, so I had to have the open partial nephrectomy. Worryingly, the surgeons also found a second tumour hidden away behind the other one when they operated. It was a grade two cancer, with a tumour about 2cm wide.
“A month later, Dr Smith confirmed that there were positive margins taken from around that the tumour site and that there was no spread. I felt so lucky that I didn’t need more aggressive cancer treatment like chemotherapy or radiotherapy, although recovering from surgery was still really hard.
“I am still suffering now with low energy levels, swelling and pain so I’m still taking medication. I have just gone back to work on a phased return and have also had counselling which has helped with my emotional and mental state. It was like a whirlwind of trauma for several weeks not knowing what was going to happen and my life only just feels like it’s started to calm down.
“I feel so lucky. I have three young girls who have been incredibly brave throughout and my husband has also been amazing, as have all my family and friends. I am so grateful to all the hospital staff who have helped me, from Dr Smith for explaining the process to me, to my support worker for the reassurance and advice, to the surgeons for discovering the second tumour.
“I don’t feel strong enough physically to do any fundraising yet, so when Sheffield Hospitals Charity asked me if I would be the face of their new lottery, it was an easy decision for me to offer my support in this way.”
The Sheffield Hospitals Lottery, which launched this month, raises vital funds for Sheffield’s NHS hospitals and community services.
The weekly draw costs from only £1 a week and all of the proceeds help to fund specialist equipment and facilities, pioneering research, patient support services and the transformation of local hospitals into more comfortable and welcoming spaces.
All proceeds go to Sheffield Hospital’s Charity. The winners are announced weekly and prizes are awarded for those who match three, four, five and six numbers and for every £25,000 jackpot win, the charity receives £25,000 in return too.