Life & Living
Norfolk’s Lucy Thompson tells Sarah Hardy about her breast cancer journey and amazing fundraising exploits.
She’s tanned, athletic looking, and with a wide, welcoming smile. Lucy Thompson looks like she’s thriving and few would guess that she is living with cancer. But Lucy, who lives just outside Norwich with her husband Adam, is very much the proof that life can and does go on, despite a secondary breast cancer diagnosis.
Lucy’s story is challenging and she tells it with candour, not shying away from the reality of her condition – her cancer is treatable but not curable. She survives, she tells me, by concentrating on the positives of her life: a strong family, a love of animals, a great group of friends and plenty of madcap fundraising ideas for the Norwich-based Big C charity.
Lucy is now in her early 40s and was born in Essex but came to South Norfolk while a schoolgirl. She has – so far – raised almost £10,000 for Big C in just over a year and has no plans to stop.
Her tough fundraising activities have included a 400 mile sponsored bike ride, staged virtually last year because of Covid restrictions, a 25km sponsored walk around The Broads and, what sounds like her favourite, a skydive from Ellough helicopter base near Beccles.
She says: ‘My skydive was thrilling! We were at about 12,500 to 13,000ft when the parachute opened and we were falling at 220ft every second. I can’t wait to do another one!
‘The old Lucy, before I had cancer, wouldn’t have considered a skydive for a second, but cancer is one of the most frightening things to face and somehow has given me the courage to make the most of every day, and take on challenges I would never have imagined possible.’
She decided to fundraise for the Big C because it is a local charity and provides a helping hand, including lots of practical advice and support, to people at a very vulnerable time. ‘It is reassuring to know they are there,’ she says. ‘And the new centre, in Norwich, will be another great resource.’
Lucy, who set up Reality Estate Agency in Norwich in 2009, explains how she first detected a lump in her breast in 2018, saying: ‘It was one Saturday night. Adam and I were watching a film on telly and eating crisps. One went down my pyjama top and when I went to get it, I felt a lump that I hadn’t felt before.’
She went to her GP and was referred to the University Hospital in Norwich where a breast cancer diagnosis was made. A lumpectomy and radiotherapy followed but Lucy was soon back at work and planning her wedding to Adam – a very fun-filled event at Norwich Castle and Cathedral.
Life was firmly back on track when Covid hit and Lucy, determined to stay in first class shape, converted part of her office into a workout station during lockdown. She explains how she felt unwell again: ‘Myself and Adam had just moved into our new apartment in Norwich when I began to feel bloated. I also had a very pronounced sense of smell. I didn’t think too much of it, until I began to get stomach pain and also in my right side. I thought I might have overdone the exercise in my home made gym, maybe pulled a muscle, but the pain continued so I went to the doctor.
‘At first he thought I might have a hiatus hernia, but unfortunately an ultrasound and CT scan found multiple lesions in my liver and a consultant confirmed that I had secondary breast cancer in my liver. I was told this was not curable but treatable and began chemotherapy in early June 2021.
‘I was fortunate in that I didn’t suffer from too many side effects from the chemo, but I lost my hair and did end up in hospital five times due to very low platelets which required both a platelet and blood transfusion.’
Lucy is now under the care of the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and her condition is kept under control by various medications. ‘One tumour has shrunk from 7cm to 4.9cm which is amazing,’ she says. She also continues to exercise and follows a vegetarian diet.
She says that keeping very busy, with a jam packed diary of events and activities, is her coping mechanism, explaining: ‘I’m up at 5.30-5.45am most mornings to walk my dogs (Gronk and Brady, named after two American footballers – her husband’s favourite sport),’ she says, adding that she then heads to a nearby stable yard where she has a horse called Ernie. ‘When I was younger, I wanted to be a riding instructor – we’ve always had horses.’ Again she’s upfront about enjoying the companionship and banter of the group there. She no longer works at her agency, although she remains a director, so the friendship offered at the yard is important to her.
‘I also make sure I see my friends and family a lot, we go out for meals and have lots of fun,’ she says.
She has a bucket list of things she wants to do – although she says she hates the term – and this has included a recent trip to Las Vegas to see Katy Perry perform. ‘She was the loveliest person – I met her after the concert.’ She is also planning a trip to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, where several former Presidents of the USA are carved into the rockface.
And Lucy is already thinking about her plans to restart her fundraising for the Big C, possibly with a terrifying Wingwalk, where you’re strapped to the wing of a light aircraft as it whizzes through the skies. Watch this space for more!
Jo Leah, Head of Communications and Fundraising for Big C, adds: ‘We cannot thank Lucy enough for the tremendous support and generosity she has shown Big C. To put others before herself when facing a secondary cancer diagnosis, is selfless, brave and nothing short of incredible. Lucy’s effort and personal courage and the support of her wonderful family and friends, will make a very real difference to others living locally with a cancer diagnosis-and-their loved ones.’
Find out more about the Big C at