For Angie Dudhill, working in the Cancer Research UK shop in Glasgow’s Shawlands is a passion and a vocation.
Four years ago, Angie was told she had stage three ovarian cancer and it was likely that she only had 12 months to live.
Despite this, the remarkable 52-year-old mum-of-three, who lives in the Southside of Glasgow, hasn’t let her cancer diagnosis stop her in her tracks.
This time last year, Angie was given the news that cancer had returned. She has since been taking the drug Olaparib, a medicine developed by Cancer Research UK scientists.
And throughout her treatment, Angie has continued to work at the Cancer Research UK shop on Pollockshaws Road, dedicated to sorting through the donations left by generous supporters.
Having decided to share her experiences to launch Cancer Research UK’s powerful and emotive ‘Right Now’ campaign in Scotland, Angie plans to make the most of the year to come.
Photo: Angie Dudhill
In particular, she’s keen to spend as much time as she can having fun with her nine-year-old son Myles and two-year-old grandson Tobin.
As part of a TV advertising drive, Cancer Research UK’s ‘Right Now’ campaign aims to bring to life the positive impact research and improved treatments has on the many men, women and children diagnosed with cancer across the UK. In sharing stories of these individuals – like Angie – who have faced their own cancer journeys, the campaign aims to pull people closer to the cause and show how actions taken right now can make a real tangible difference in helping more people survive.
By reflecting on her own cancer experience, Angie hopes to draw attention to the impact cancer research has had on her life.
For Angie, the true impact of the disease hit home when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March 2013.
At the time, Angie was visiting her daughter Kaya in India who worked there for an NGO. Angie’s son Myles, who was aged five at the time, was with her.
Angie had been feeling unwell with a sore back and, suspecting a bladder infection, visited the local travel health clinic and asked for a scan.
Video: Angie is beating cancer
Angie said: “I’d visited Kaya in India a few times and it’s not uncommon to get dehydration or some kind of infection which is what I thought was making me feel unwell. When the doctor came back and told me I didn’t have an infection but ovarian cancer, it was a real shock.”
Angie and her daughter immediately decided to return home so treatment could begin. Angie’s son Nat, a property consultant, also flew back from China to be with his mum. At the time, Angie lived in Rotherham, Yorkshire.
Surgery followed along with six months of chemotherapy.
“The doctors at the time told me I had 12 months to live,” recalled Angie. “I decided that was news I just couldn’t take any notice of. It was important to me that I carried on. I just kept thinking ‘this isn’t killing me any time soon’.”
In light of her diagnosis, Kaya and her then-partner decided to look for jobs in the UK. Kaya’s partner Richard Eldridge, aged 37, secured a job in Glasgow as a fire health and safety officer and so the whole family moved.
Since then, Kaya, aged 32, and Richard have got married and they now have a two-year-old son Tobin. They live in Pollockshields, Glasgow, with Angie and her son Myles who is now nine.
Angie said: “Glasgow is a really vibrant place and there’s always lots to do if you want to. We’ve really settled here as a family and we’re looking to buy a place here this year.
“Living together really works for us. Kaya and Richard look after me and I can do my bit to look after my son and grandson and keep up with the ironing and cooking. It’s great all of us being together.”
She added: “My family has been so supportive, dropping everything to be with me after I was diagnosed. They are incredible.
“As a family, we have had some pretty horrible things thrown at us over the last few years but we’ve made it work.”
As well as savouring the little things, Angie also has some big ambitions for 2018.
As well as buying a new home in Glasgow, Angie plans to visit her son Nat, aged 28, and his new wife Linna in China. Angie was unable to attend their wedding as she was going through cancer treatment. Angie also plans to journey to India, a place that remains close to her heart.
Angie said: “I love travelling. As a family, we’re an intrepid bunch and we’re never happier than when we’re exploring.”
Angie has also received the news that she carries the faulty BRCA1 gene. In light of this, Angie plans to have a double mastectomy in 2018.
As these faults can be inherited, Angie’s daughter Kaya has been tested for the gene but is fortunately not a carrier.
Angie has also enrolled in the Cancer Research UK EMBRACE trial which collects information about women who have inherited faulty genes which mean they have an increased risk of developing some types of cancer.
Angie’s life is a busy one and, when she’s not working for a letting agency, she’s looking after her son and grandson and taking them to children’s parties or to their hobbies.
And for the past two-and-a-half years, Angie’s been working for her local Cancer Research UK shop on Pollockshaws Road.
Angie said: “The treatment I have been given wasn’t available a few years ago and so I’m lucky to have it. It’s keeping me alive.
“I feel very grateful from the bottom of my heart because I’m alive. I have a fantastic life. The treatment I have is available because of research. And so I’ve no problem working in the shop for a few hours every week and raising a bit of money.
“I really enjoy working with all the volunteers and my manager John is brilliant. We have a really good laugh. And when I’m going through all the bags of items donated, it’s clear to me that lots of wonderful people have donated all this wonderful stuff. It’s amazing.
“The people who work with me have all been touched by cancer in some way and they’re all dedicated to what we’re trying to achieve – beating cancer.
“I have a good life. And I’m so grateful.”
Angie continued: “The ‘Right Now’ campaign captures the experience of so many families like mine. Cancer affects us all – not just the person diagnosed, but also their loved ones. I hope people are motivated to show their support and help even more people survive.
“My experience means I understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. So I’m urging people across Scotland to take action, right now, and help support the charity’s vital research.”
Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK spokesperson in Scotland, said: “There are many moments which encapsulate a person’s cancer journey and our ‘Right Now’ campaign aims to show both the realities of the disease and the positive impact research can have on a cancer patient’s journey.
“Every year, around 31,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland*. But thanks to research, more people are surviving the disease than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
“Our campaign shows that we are working to beat cancer right now. But we can’t do it alone. With the help of our supporters, Cancer Research UK scientists can find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.
“There are so many ways for people to show their support here in Scotland, from signing up for Race for Life to volunteering in our shops or simply wearing a Unity Band for World Cancer Day on 4 February. We’re calling on people in Scotland to take action right now and make a real difference in the fight against the disease.”