Love Island star Demi Jones has revealed how going public with her cancer diagnosis has helped inspire others to get any unusual changes checked out in a powerful new video with friend and fellow former islander Shaughna Phillips.
Sitting down together for an honest and heartfelt conversation, Shaughna and Demi talk about the impact the disease has had on both their lives. Demi was diagnosed with cancer in May this year and Shaughna’s dad died from cancer in 2016.
They are sharing their stories to support Cancer Research UK’s Play Your Part campaign, which aims to raise awareness of cancer and encourage people to support the vital research that will beat it.
In the video, Demi talks about being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After describing her initial shock at the news, Demi goes on to say she’s undergone successful surgery to remove the tumour, which was the size of a golf ball, and is due to have further radiation treatment.
After sharing her diagnosis on social media, Demi talks about the incredible response she’s had.
She told Shaughna: “Now, I can’t go a day without people messaging me, saying they’ve got their lumps checked because of me, they’re going for an operation because of my story.”
Losing a loved one
Having developed a close friendship during their time on season 6 of the popular reality TV show, Shaughna and Demi have remained friends since. Shaughna reveals that she was ‘terrified’ to hear of Demi’s diagnosis, having lost her dad to pancreatic cancer in 2016 when he was 50 years old.
In the video, Shaughna emotionally recalls her dad’s final months after being diagnosed with cancer, and how she wishes she’d thanked him more. She explains how her dad’s diagnosis has made her more compassionate to others.
Getting diagnosed early
In the final parts of their conversation, Shaughna and Demi talk about the importance of early diagnosis, the impact of research and the need to raise awareness.
On supporting the Play Your Part campaign, Demi said: “I was so shocked when I was diagnosed with cancer and my first thoughts were ‘Is this going to kill me? Am I going to be really poorly?’ But thanks to research, I have treatment options and am doing really well.
“The response I’ve had since sharing my story has been incredible and I want to do everything I can to keep raising awareness. Everyone knows their own body best and if something’s unusual for you or won’t go away, take charge and speak to your doctor. Sadly one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime so everyone could be affected in some way, whether themselves or a loved one.
“But all of us can support the life-saving research that will beat cancer – you could donate, fundraise or even volunteer. It all makes a huge difference against this awful disease.”
Sharing our stories
Shaughna added: “I lost my wonderful dad to cancer when he was only 50. I was devastated and miss him every day.
“When I heard about Demi being diagnosed, I was terrified for her but she’s doing so well and has shown such bravery in sharing her story and helping others. Near enough every person you know will have a story to tell about cancer so let’s speak about it more.
“Let’s keep raising awareness and keep doing our bit to raise money for research that will save more lives.”
Play your part
Today, two in four people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Despite the impact of the pandemic, Cancer Research UK’s determination to beat cancer hasn’t faltered. The charity is more focused than ever on its ambition to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
The Play Your Part campaign encourages people to support the charity’s vital work through fundraising, donating, volunteering or pledging to leave a gift in a will. Supporting the campaign will allow Cancer Research UK to continue funding world-class research to save more lives.
To find out more about the campaign and how to support life-saving research, visit cruk.org.