After enduring drastic surgery, a mom of three hopes immunotherapy will stop the spread of the cancer that cost her her nose.
She’s determined that the illness won’t deprive her of the big day she’s been looking for to.
After receiving the all clear following surgery and other treatments for the aggressive cancer that threw her life into disarray, Julia Davey (40) from Weymouth in Dorset, England, was excited about a happy future with her family.
One of the first things she wanted to do was marry Nick Stoodley (44), her long-term partner who asked her to marry him in September and who’s also the father of her youngest child.
But a few months later she found out the cancer was back. However she’s fighting on bravely – her motivation is that she wants to be a mom to her children. She also wants to walk down the aisle with Nick, even if their wedding day has to be postponed. For her this will set the seal on their loving family life.
“I feel like I’ve had my whole world tipped upside down this past year,” the former secretary says. “It had seemed manageable – but it all changed. I realised I had a bigger battle on my hands than I’d thought.”
In June last year she was diagnosed
with a rare cancer in her nasal septum, the cartilage separating the left and
right nostril, according to an overview of her cancer battle on a support
group’s website. Two months earlier she’d gone to the doctor for help with a
blocked nose and a growth had been removed from one of her nostrils.
The cancer became aggressive quite quickly. In July last year her septum was removed as well as another growth in August. But in September doctors confirmed the cancer had spread throughout her nose.
So at the end of September she started chemotherapy, but two courses were unsuccessful and the only option left was to remove her entire nose. In November Julia spent two weeks in hospital after her nose, a part of her top palate and some lymph nodes were removed during a 14-hour operation.
Using pictures, a prosthetic nose was made for her.
The road to recovery has been difficult, but in January while undergoing radiotherapy she got the green light from doctors. She couldn’t wait to continue her busy family life with Nick, a sales adviser, their daughter, Eleanor (5), and her sons from a previous relationship, Tom (16) and Joel (12).
But her first MRI scan in April showed another tumour had grown in her left maxilla or upper jawbone. A part of the inside of her cheek and jaw had to be removed. But the brave woman continued fighting.
And then in June she got the upsetting
news that there were more cancer cells deep in her nasal cavity, where surgery
is unfortunately too risky. Now Julia and her family, friends and community are
hoping the cancer can be controlled through long-term immunotherapy.
She’s tried to stay strong, but the merciless disease has made her feel terribly vulnerable. “I’m not vain at all but your nose is so prominent. It was just devastating. There’s a hole where my nose is. There’s no other way to describe it. Only a few people have seen it – including Nick – but I haven’t shown the children.
“It can feel like I’m fighting against the tide, but I need this treatment to work.”
She’s been deeply touched by the
support of her community and by donations from all over the world to help her
and Nick get married in November – earlier than planned but recommended by
“At the end of the day, my goal is to be a mum to my children and a wife to Nick. I’ve got to stay positive.”