Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

'Best Christmas present ever' - being cancer-free

Backing from family, friends and strangers supports brave battle to triumph over cancer death sentence

A delighted Carrie Watt and Glenn Williams plan to marry in March.
A delighted Carrie Watt and Glenn Williams plan to marry in March.

A young woman who was told she was terminally ill has extra reason to celebrate this Christmas - her doctors now say her cancer has gone.

Carrie Watt, 28, is looking forward to marrying her fiance in March and getting on with a life she was told she would lose to cervical cancer.

"I haven't stopped smiling," she said. "We told people pretty much straight away when we walked out of the appointment, and popped some champagne that night.

"But there are definitely lots more celebrations to come - the best Christmas present ever."

When Ms Watt, who worked for Canterbury Rugby and the Crusaders, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August last year, doctors told her they were confident of a cure.

She and her partner Glenn Williams, 29, had bought a house, and became engaged after her diagnosis.

Ms Watt had chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but in May she was told the cancer had spread and she was terminally ill.

"I never expected it, I was thinking worst-case scenario might be radical surgery. I never thought they were going to say there was nothing they could do.

"I had a complete break-down in that hospital room. But as soon as we got home it was like, right, it's not going to be how they say it's going to be."

Close friends set-up a Givealittle fundraising page to raise money for the cancer drug Avastin - which is not government-funded - and other support and treatments.

More than 200 donations came from friends, family members and strangers.

Ms Watt's workmates organised fundraisers, and a friend's sister in Wales held a fundraising barbecue. More than $35,000 was raised.

"The support has been amazing, even from people that I didn't know," she said.

Determined to do everything possible to beat the cancer, Ms Watt started on a palliative treatment round of two chemotherapy drugs and Avastin, and also investigated alternative measures including diet and exercise changes.

While she never believed she would die young, Ms Watt said there were "really tough moments".

Then, at a November 29 meeting with her oncologist, she and Mr Williams got the news they wanted.

"We had an indicator earlier on in the week from an internal exam that everything was looking good, so we were a little bit prepared for it," she said.

"But nothing can really prepare you for getting such good news, when you've been told the worst. It was absolutely amazing."

- NZ Herald

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