A brave cancer survivor from Woodhall Spa has taken her story to the House of Commons in support of a national campaign.
Jacky Merrison, 72, who has spent more than two decades battling cancer, spoke at the launch of Mouth Cancer Action Month.
Organised by the British Dental Health Foundation, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the disease, including the risk factors, signs and symptoms.
Jacky said: “I may well have been told I have cancer on eight separate occasions, but each time it felt like I was landing on the moon.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you hear those words, they’re equally as shocking and they never get any easier.”
Jacky was first diagnosed with cancer in July 1994 after a routine mammogram.
She has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma five times, the most serious of which occurred in 2012
In May 2011, she fell victim to mouth cancer.
Jacky added: “I remember having a routine dental appointment.
“My dentist wasn’t 100% sure about something he found and given my past history he decided to err on the side of caution.
“I had a biopsy on a lump on the palette of my mouth, and sure enough I had cancer of the mouth.
“It might come as a surprise, given my experience with cancer, but it was not a form of the disease I was particularly aware of, so it was definitely quite a shock.
“I needed radiotherapy and this is not pleasant.
“I could not have managed without the support of my husband, and the hospital provided me with the best support you could get.”
Jacky has now been given the all-clear and says the key to her fight was to focus on the future.
She explained: “I set myself a goal and would urge anyone else suffering with this terrible disease to do the same.
“I wanted a weekend in the Lakes. Every time I went for chemo sessions, I would think about my weekend away that I would have when all of this was over.”
Jacky still suffers from some side effects, but is hoping her story will inspire others
She added: “If you notice a change in your mouth, get it fixed. You know your mouth better than anyone, so be aware of what’s going on. Make an appointment with your dentist,”