Love Island star Demi Jones found her life turned upside down in March this year, when she was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid.
She had found the lump in her neck two years previously, but a combination of delayed appointments due to the Covid crisis and misdiagnosis meant it wasn’t treated.
The 23-year-old required immediate surgery to remove the tumour, which has left her with a scar on her neck.
She’s still waiting to hear if her treatment has been fully successful, as she prepares to take part in Strictly The Full Monty to highlight to young people not to ignore changes in their body.
“I think a lot of people are actually scared,” she said. “They avoid going to the doctors, even though it’s at the back of their mind. I did that a lot.”
Hi Demi, you were only diagnosed with cancer this year. How are you doing?
I’ve had two surgeries and radioiodine therapy treatment, so I’ve been living with cancer for about six months now. The iodine was about month ago, so I am just awaiting my results, hopefully soon I will find out what is going on.
And that’s why you’ve decided to do the show?
I am also doing it for my stepdad, who has stage four melanoma cancer.
When I found my lump on my neck, I told him about it and he found a lump on his neck. He was diagnosed first, but they told me there was nothing to worry about.
You’re very young, did you think it was something that couldn’t happen to you?
Absolutely. When I was diagnosed, I was sat in a room with old people and remember thinking: “Why me? I’m 23 years old, I’ve had this amazing experience on Love Island, so why me?”
I was getting really upset about it. But I am hoping I can raise awareness among young people to check their lumps, no matter how old you are, or how much you’ve got so going on in your life.
I think a lot of people are actually scared. They avoid going to the doctor, even though it’s at the back of their mind. I did that a lot. Or you feel like you’re wasting their time.
Could you have been diagnosed earlier?
Absolutely I could have been. Unfortunately, there is such a strain on the NHS. I had no symptoms whatsoever apart from the lump, but I knew it didn’t feel right.
At the point I thought I couldn’t wait any longer and I’d researched into going private, weirdly that’s when I heard from the NHS. But from September all the way to March they kept re-booking and cancelling, so I could have been diagnosed in September last year.
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Has the treatment affected your energy levels?
Oh, definitely. The thyroid controls all your hormones and your energy, so I am tired all the time. When I first had the surgery, I was sleeping all day every day, and my mum was really concerned.
But they increased my dosage of levothyroxine [a man-made version of the Thyroid hormone] which has given me a bit more energy. So, I am keeping up with that.
And how are you finding the show?
Well, I feel like Teddy Soares [from 2021 Love Island] and I are amateurs, we didn’t have any dancing experience whatsoever. So, we’ve been trying to learn off each other. But when Ashley Banjo is just sitting there watching you trying to do it, it’s a lot of pressure.
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