A dance teacher who survived ovarian cancer discovered a lump on her foot, a decade after getting the all-clear.
Ginnette Brookes, 53, from Rowley Fields in Leicester was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 40.
After having a hysterectomy to remove the cancerous tissue, she thought that her experience with the disease was over.
But during the lockdown, her worst fears seemed to come true when she found a lump in her foot.
The 53-year-old feared that the lump was malignant and so immediately booked an appointment with her GP.
She went through a video appointment with her GP, before an ultrasound scan.
Ginnette was then referred to a specialist sarcoma unit and had an X-ray, MRI scan and biopsy of the mass.
“I knew when they were doing the ultrasound scan that they were worried – the nurse went very quiet and took a very long time, just as the medical staff did when they scanned my ovaries,” she said.
“When I got a telephone call from the sarcoma unit I knew it was potentially cancer. It was really scary,” said Ginnette, who works for Dupont Dance School in Leicester and as an instructor for Ultra Events, training people to dance in ballroom dancing events which raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.
The scans confirmed the lump was a non-cancerous giant cell tenosynovial tumour and was relieved when she was told the tumour was benign and could be removed by surgery.
“It was such wonderful news that it was benign,” said Ginnette.
“When you’ve already had cancer once in your life you do brace yourself for bad news. I know full well that cancer isn’t always for other people – it can affect us when we are least expecting it.”
Ginnette was warned that the surgery would leave her unable to dance and probably unable to move very much at all for some months.
The mother, who has been dancing since she was two-years-old, and said: “Dance is the very essence of me; it’s how I express myself and when I dance I am truly happy.
“Teaching dance and trying to share my passion is so fulfilling; seeing people understand the joy that it brings and taking the opportunity to let themselves go is truly fulfilling.
“The operation was booked for the beginning of September and I was told I’d be unlikely to dance again until January at the earliest and that my movement might be very limited,” she said.
“Obviously it was bad news for me as a dance teacher, but I was just profoundly grateful that it wasn’t cancer.
“It really brought home to me how important it is to keep cancer research going forward.
“I was determined to do something with the last few days before I lost my ability to dance.
“I came up with the idea of ‘Dance to beat Cancer’ and got the whole fundraising plan off the ground in a matter of days.”
Ginnette offered a half-hour online dance session for a suggested donation of £5 and launched the initiative on her Facebook page.
Within hours she was deluged with donations and sign-ups for dance lessons. To date, she has raised over £1.5k for Cancer Research UK.
Ginnette believes she owes her life to research after being diagnosed with early-stage ovarian cancer in 2007.
She and her husband Dan already had their daughter Lily before the cancer diagnosis, so Ginnette opted for a full hysterectomy and needed no further treatment.
“I have now been incredibly lucky, twice. My mum, who died of an inoperable brain tumour in 2011, was not so lucky,” she said
“Charities like Cancer Research UK have been impacted very badly by the Covid-19 crisis and it is essential that we do everything we can to support them and keep cancer science moving forwards. I am so very grateful for all the donations I received ”
Having been warned that the surgery in September would leave her hobbling for weeks, Ginnette was amazed to come round from the operation to be told it had gone so well.
“The tumour turned out to be on the bone rather than the tendon so the surgery didn’t cause as much damage as expected. I managed to bear my own weight very quickly, and was soon walking around, though it will still be January before I can do anything as energetic as dancing!”
Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend over £2 million in the East Midlands region last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
From virtual quizzes and live-streaming music nights to sponsored haircuts or head shaves, Cancer Research UK has a host of ideas to inspire people to fundraise at home or they can simply organise their own activities.
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Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Leicester, said: “We’re so grateful to Ginnette for her inspired dancing fundraiser, particularly at a time when she was facing surgery that would put her out of action for months.
“We remain tirelessly committed to making progress for people affected by cancer, but now more than ever, support from the public will be vital. We simply will not be able to continue funding our cutting-edge work without it. Everyone can play a part, no matter how big or small, in helping to lessen the impact that lockdown has had on our research.”
Cancer Research UK expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 25 per cent in the next financial year, as a direct result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
If you would like to donate to Ginette’s fundraiser, you can do so by clicking here.