A NEWLY-wed cancer survivor is hoping to stand out from the crowd and raise vital funds for charity.

Being diagnosed with leukaemia was devastating for Sarah Wolstenholme, 23, coming just five years after her brother died after his own battle with the disease.

She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia early last year – a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells and progresses rapidly through the body.

Sarah’s brother Wayne was diagnosed with the same disease when he was just 18-months-old. He later developed a brain tumour and died in 2013, aged 21.

In February 2018, Sarah – who works as a childcare practitioner at Sunny Brow Nursery, Kendal – noticed she was feeling tired and light-headed. Suspecting she might be anaemic, she went to see her GP who took blood samples.

Just hours later, she received a phone call from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and was asked to come in for further tests, including a bone marrow biopsy. Sarah spent the night in hospital and the following day was told she had leukaemia.

“It was a complete shock when the doctors said the words: ‘It’s cancer’. My partner John had recently proposed to me over a picnic in the Cumbrian fells and we were meant to be enjoying a time of wedding planning and excitement. In that instant, everything changed.”

Sarah immediately began chemotherapy, including injections into her spine to combat cancer cells which were travelling to her brain. She began to lose her hair and enlisted best friend Becky Morland, 28 – who works as a hairdresser – to cut her long locks and donate them to wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.

After about seven weeks of chemotherapy treatment, doctors decided the standard drugs were not working as well as hoped and Sarah was given a new form of chemotherapy. It was more successful and, in June 2018, she was able to have a bone marrow transplant.

She said: “I was incredibly grateful for the transplant, but the treatment was really tough. I was in isolation for eight weeks. I was constantly being sick. At one point, I even received palliative care.

A year on and Sarah is doing well. She travels to Newcastle for fortnightly phototherapy treatment – where her white blood cells are exposed to ultraviolet light. In May, Sarah married John in the wedding of her dreams at Shap Church.

Sarah is now rallying people to support Stand Up to Cancer by getting sponsored to wear outrageous, funny or unpredictable clothing.

Becky is joining Sarah in the unpredictable dress-up challenge. She said: “It was so hard to see Sarah go through treatment, especially when she had her bone marrow transplant and I couldn’t see her for months while she went into isolation. But she is an amazing person and we are all so proud of her.”

Sarah hopes to motivate people across Cumbria to get involved in Stand Up To Cancer’s ‘Fortnight of Fundraising.’ To get involved visit su2c.org.uk