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Norfolk woman's blog tells of rare cancer battle

Victoria Cornish nee Johnston. Picture by James Melia www.jamesmeliaphoto.com

Victoria Cornish nee Johnston. Picture by James Melia www.jamesmeliaphoto.com

James Melia Photography

Christmas was extra special for one couple as it was their first since getting married - despite the bride being given a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

The romantic tale has seen people flooding to her online blog which she is using to journal her experiences since being diagnosed with a very rare cancer, adrenal-cortical carcinoma (ACC).

Victoria Cornish, 28, née Johnston, has gained many well-wishers through the blog, entitled Poppies and Epiphanies, and is now looking to raise awareness of the rare form of cancer.

She married Darren Cornish, 27, in November in Etton, Cambridgeshire. Originally from Leicester, she grew up in rural Cambridgeshire before moving to Norwich to work for National Express in 2007. Now living in Hockering, west of Norwich, she and her husband are facing up to a life with an uncertain future.

After becoming ill in the summer of 2010 the former Durham University archaeology student was eventually diagnosed with ACC at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Victoria underwent an operation to remove an 11cm primary tumour on her adrenal gland, and although recovery seemed slow at first, after six months she was coming back to her old self.

However, at the start of September, the devastating news that the cancer had come back arrived and, even worse, had spread to her lungs and diaphragm. Doctors then informed the couple that the cancer was terminal. Despite the news, the couple pressed ahead with their wedding in November and are now doing their best to live their lives to the full.

“ACC has a very high recurrence rate of approximately 80pc,” Victoria explained. “The average survival rate after recurrence is 23 months; with virtually no cases surviving more than five years, although this type of cancer is so rare statistics are inaccurate.”

It is to her blog that Victoria suggests tells her story best, however. Parts of her first post read: “It started a few years back with glandular fever from which I never seemed to truly recover; from chest infections to depression.

“I used to be super healthy so I felt this illness was the beginning of something. That something turned out to be ACC.”

She went on to describe the afternoon when she found out her cancer was terminal, saying: “I know I continued to talk through the logistics with the doctor but I don’t remember much of what was said except, ‘I’m sorry, this is terminal’. Terminal. I am going to die.

“I can feel the tension from the men who love me; my fiance and my dad. I feel blank, even bordering on a weird kind of euphoria. All that wait all those questions; it’s over. They’re over but so is my life, my future.”

Victoria’s husband, Darren, a life coach and hypnotherapist, decided to set up the charity Imagine It two years ago, which aims to help people move forward and “live for the moment”.

Anyone can join and organise events for Imagine It, including sports tournaments, or receive one-to-one support and life coaching.

For more information about the charity, go to www.imagineit.org.uk.

To read Victoria’s blog, go to www.poppiesandepiphanies.blogspot.com

Do you know someone with an inspirational story? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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