Michelle Watson | Sarcoma UK
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Michelle Watson

Michelle Watson

Michelle Watson is living with the knowledge that she has the same genetic mutation that saw her twin sister die from cancer and her father suffer from an incurable cancer.

Michelle, 40, from Godalming in Surrey, has the TP53 mutation, which means she is predisposed to variety of cancers, especially breast cancer, leukaemia and sarcoma.

Her sister Emma, a nurse, died in September 2023. Michelle said: “My twin sister Emma was diagnosed of a rare cancer called peripheral nerve sheath sarcoma. This developed at the base of her spine and grew into her pelvis.

“They operated but unfortunately the cancer spread to her leg further, resulting in a full leg amputation. She had sepsis a few times because of the operations. She recovered, had chemo and radiotherapy but it didn’t stop the cancer from then spreading to her other hip, shoulder and head.

“My poor sister underwent countless operations but it went to her lungs eventually. She was in her prime, was a senior sister and had an amazing job helping others. I saw her suffering, we all did, and her anguish and fear of dying.”

Emma, who died aged 40, was treated at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore and then cared for at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne. A sample of her tissues found she had a genetic mutation called TP53.

Michelle, who has two children, Matilda, seven, and Charlie, four, said: “I miss Emma so much. I used to video call her every day. Our sibling bond was so strong.”

But Emma’s death isn’t the only tragedy to affect Michelle’s family.

Michelle said: “My dad, Edward, had prostate cancer five years ago and recovered but last year he found out he had sarcoma in the liver. He had chemo and radiotherapy but, again, nothing can be done and is trialling a drug to slow the cancer.”

She added: “I wondered if I may have the genetic mutation as Emma so I paid privately with the Royal Marsden. I have my genes tested and I do have TP53 and something called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. This now predisposes me to all cancer – breast cancer being the most common. I’m very scared but I want to prevent myself from having a critical illness and reduce my risks.”

Michelle visits the Royal Marsden Hospital in London every six months for MRI scans.

She says what has happened to her family and the knowledge she has TP53 has changed her outlook on life. “It has made me want to fight. I’m scared. I’ve seen what Emma went through. Emma’s suffering has really affected me.”

Michelle found out about the work of Sarcoma UK – a national charity that funds vital research, offers support for anyone affected by sarcoma cancer and campaigns for better treatments. It is the only cancer charity in the UK focusing on all types of sarcoma.

Michelle has decided she will run the Brighton Marathon in April in aid of the charity and has a target of £2,500. “The money could help fund a trial, provide more counselling or wherever the money goes. It is a cause I want to support. It is scary there are so many different types of sarcoma.”


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