Despite fighting her own gruelling battle with breast cancer a couragous young Hartlepool mum has vowed to help others.
As well as signing up to take part in the Race for Life, raising vital funds for Cancer Research UK, Jemma Duggan, is also determined to help other women closer to home by providing mastectomy bras for the hospital trust.
At the age of just 36, Jemma, has undergone four operations in the space of four months and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
Jemma noticed a small lump in her right breast last autumn and underwent her first surgery to have it removed in October.
Because of her age the medical team wanted to avoid removing the breast, but after another two operations to remove more of the affected cells, they had to admit defeat and carry out a mastectomy in January.
Jemma, who is mum to Jack, nine, and stepmum to Charlie, seven, and 11-year-old Gabriel, said: “It sounds strange, but I wasn’t shocked when they told me I had breast cancer. I knew there were things they could do and that I just needed to get on with it and get it sorted. I really think it will hit me more once the chemotheraphy is over.
I would love to be able to give something backJemma Duggan
“I thought nothing could be worse than the four operations, but the chemotherapy is horrendous. I have been really ill this cycle. Sometimes it is easier to cry through it than smile through it.”
It was after the operation that Jemma found out there are only eight post surgery mastectomy bras each year donated to the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust, which means many women are going without.
She said: “There are so many more women who need them and are coming out of hospital with no bra on.
“As soon as I got home I had to go shopping with my mam to buy my own and they are very expensive, some woman won’t be able to afford them.”
Jemma, who works as a medical receptionist, decided she wanted to raise money to buy pretty mastectomy bras for women in hospital, giving them one less thing to face at the time of having their operation.
Now, Jemma is selling T shirts, which have been designed by her partner, John Paul Tully, to raise money for the bras, and so far has raised more than £600.
She said: “I thought the T shirts would be a good idea because a lot of people will be taking part in the Race for Life, so we thought they could wear them for that.”
John Paul started making the T shirts and for every £10 donated to Jemma’s fundraising the person gets a T shirt.
Jemma, who lives in the town’s Tintagel Close, currently has two sessions of chemotherapy left to endure and then hopefully her treatment will be over.
She said: “I would love to be able to give something back to those that have supported me and my family throughout this difficult time.
“I have signed up to the Race for Life, I certainly won’t be well enough to run it, but I’m hoping I will be able to manage walk it.”
Anyone who would like to sponsor Jemma to do the Race for Life can visit www.justgiving.com/jemmaduggan and to order a T shirt people can contact her through Facebook at www.facebook.com/jemma. duggan.