Sandy Mum fighting rare cancer is raising awareness about Thymic Carcinoma

Only 345 people in the UK are diagnosed each year

By Jo Robinson
Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 3:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2022, 1:05 pm

A mother from Sandy is raising awareness about thymus gland cancer - a rare disease with only 345 people in the UK diagnosed each year.

Sarah Crone, 42, was told she had the condition earlier this year, and has shared her story with the Chronicle to warn others and raise awareness.

The finance director first experienced symptoms around Christmas whilst taking part in a boxing match for Cancer Research UK, but never suspected it could be something serious.

Sarah Crone with her daughter, Hannah. Right: Rebellious Hope - Sarah has been inspired by cancer campaigner, Dame Deborah James. Sarah advises people not to go hunting for statistics in the internet if they have been diagnosed with cancer.

Sarah said: "I just had this cough, it was persistent, but it wasn't really impacting my life. I'd had Covid and thought, 'maybe it's just a result of that?'

"After that particular match, I spent a good hour coughing quite persistently. But then it settled, and I forgot about it until it flared up again."

Persuaded by her family, Sarah visited her GP surgery at Easter, and a nurse advised her that her symptoms - a cough, swollen ankle, swollen legs, achey joints, and sore feet could warrant a hospital appointment.

"I think she may have recognised this combination..." said Sarah.

A CT scan at Bedford Hospital showed that Sarah had a shadow on her lung and she was informed that she had a Thymoma, a tumour on her Thymus gland (this sits between the lungs and supports the development of the immune system during adolescence).

However, it had also caused one litre of fluid to build up around her heart.

"I couldn't walk to the top of the stairs without catching my breath!" remembered Sarah.

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Referred to Papworth Hospital, a biopsy confirmed the devastating news that Sarah had Thymic Carcinoma, a form of Thymic cancer that is more aggressive.

Sarah said: "My world just crumbled and I was thinking about my daughter and how to tell her."

At the time of diagnosis (April 5), the cancer had spread to the lining of Sarah's right lung, and to one of her vertebrae. It was too delicate to go under the knife.

Thankfully, after chemotherapy at Addenbrooke's Hospital, the 11cm tumour is now 4cm, while the tumour on the spine might be benign.

Sarah now has one more round of treatment and hopes people can support Thymic UK, a charity which raises awareness of both the public and medical professionals.