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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Millom girl Olivia pledges future to help tackle cancer

A BRAVE student hopes to dedicate her career to fighting the disease that took the lives of her mum and grandmother.

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DETERMINED Olivia Rigg, whose mother Diane (inset) and grandmother died of cancer

Olivia Rigg from Millom lost her mum Diane Rigg to breast cancer in November 2011 aged 46, following a two year battle with the illness.

And her maternal grandmother Mary Harkness died of ovarian cancer, also aged 46.

Now the 20-year-old has decided to pursue a career in nursing, specialising in oncology, to do all she can to help others with the disease.

After being diagnosed in 2009, Mrs Rigg underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

However, just as she was recovering from the treatment, early in 2011, she discovered lumps in her neck.

Further tests revealed that the disease had spread into her lymph nodes and she was told the cancer was inoperable.

Throughout her battle with cancer she was supported by her husband Andrew, Olivia and her sister Annie, aged 17.

Ms Rigg said: “I always think that my mum lost her mum at the exactly the same age of just 46, and that gives me strength as she managed to carry on with her life.”

Ms Rigg is currently studying nursing at Manchester Metropolitan University and hopes to specialise in oncology.

“Watching my mum go through treatment made me really feel that I wanted to make a difference for future generations,” she said.

Ms Rigg faces tough decisions of her own as her family is affected by the faulty BRCA1 gene, which causes an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

“I think it is more than likely that I will opt to be tested for the gene, but it is difficult having to make huge life decisions at such a young age,” she said.

“There is a 50 per cent chance that I will carry the gene, but I feel fortunate in knowing that risk.”

Ms Rigg and her family have already raised more than £25,000 for Cancer Research UK and other cancer charities by holding fundraising events since Diane’s death.

Her latest mission is to take part in the Race For Life in Preston on Sunday June 16, in aid of Cancer Research.

She said: “Taking part in Race for Life and raising money for Cancer Research UK is my way of fighting back and helping to ensure other families don’t face the same heartache we did.”

Race for Life events will also be held at Carlisle on Sunday July 7 and at Lancaster on Sunday July 14.

Visit www.raceforlife.org for more information.

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