Terminally ill maths teacher branded a miracle by cancer doctors as she opens up about her struggle with coronavirus shielding
A cancer patient, branded a “bit of a miracle” by doctors, has spoken of looking forward to a post COVID cruise holiday with her husband - but also her fears that she “has lost touch with the world” after almost a year of shielding.
Sandra Hudson, a former maths teacher, didn’t think she would be alive today after a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2017 where doctors told her to retire as, if she had any things she wanted to do, now was the time as she only had a couple of years to live.
Check ups after a hysterectomy in 2017 revealed she had bowel cancer which had spread to her liver, lungs and lymph nodes.
A series of operations and treatments, including the removal of part of her bowel and her lymph nodes, saw her clear of liver and bowel cancer the following year but, the secondary tumours that appeared in her lungs keep returning.
The Morley woman is still considered to be terminally ill with stage four cancer and the size of the tumour in her lung has grown after her treatment was stopped due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Mrs Hudson, aged 55, said: “They said I was a bit of a miracle because the cancer didn’t come back to my bowel. I have got the secondary cancer.
“I have had four birthdays since I was diagnosed, they are keeping me alive and the treatment is working.”
The diagnosis prompted Mrs Hudson to venture beyond Europe for her holidays and in the last few years, she and her husband, Paul, have been to the Caribbean and Jamaica which she says she never would have had she not had cancer.
She is hopeful that post-COVID they can enjoy a cruise in the Caribbean again and has also got several mini-breaks planned for the UK in the hope they can go-ahead and her current cancer treatment goes well.
However, she admits she is nervous of being out and about again.
In the first lockdown she did not venture past her garden gate for three months, slept in a separate room to her husband who was still working, had to employ a dog walker and spent 10 hours a day by herself.
From having her dream job, caring for her mother, meeting friends and globe-trotting with her family - she has not set foot in a supermarket since last March and the isolation got to the point where she resorted to watching out of the window for neighbours to put their rubbish out so she could strike up a conversation
“For 11 weeks I never left the house, not even the front lawn. Me and my husband had separate beds and bathrooms as he is a key worker. I had to wipe everything down every morning, even the kettle handle and light switches. I have not been to a supermarket since March last year.
“I found it hard, I was active but had to pay for a dog walker, friends would text but to say they had been for a walk.
“I lost touch with the world. I was on about traffic and my husband said 'you don’t know what’s going on, there is no-one around'. I would look for people on the street putting their rubbish out so I could stand on the grass and talk.”
In her career, Mrs Hudson has taught at primaries in Beeston and Halton Moor, secondary schools at Cockburn and Morley Academy where she spent 11 years and before her diagnosis landed her dream job teaching at a special needs school in Castleford.
Using a technique of writing poetry to cope with the stresses of her job, she has written poems about cancer and the pressures of COVID and shielding and tries to maintain a positive outlook - despite fears the halted treatment may have set her back.
She added: “I have been anxious because you know it is growing rather than keeping on top of it. You have got to be positive and keep going and not let it change you.”
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