UK

BBC newsreader Kate Williams reveals rare cancer diagnosis

Kate Williams

BBC newsreader Kate Williams has revealed she has a rare form of cancer.

Williams, who works for BBC Radio 5 Live, said she was diagnosed with cystic peritoneal mesothelioma in 2017.

Following surgery later that year, she said her first annual scan showed no evidence of disease, although there was a chance of reoccurrence.

She told 5 Live's You, Me and The Big C podcast she was only aware of three others in the UK who have the cancer, which affects the abdominal cavity.

The abdominal cavity is the large space in the body bound by the abdominal walls, diaphragm and pelvis.

Williams, who is married with two children, said: "If you look at the medical literature, they often quote 153 cases in the world.

"And in the UK I know of three other people, mainly through a Facebook group that I joined.

"If you look at mesothelioma it's not a nice one to look at. It's very aggressive, malignant, quite often caused by asbestos."

Having a rare disease was "really lonely", she said.

"It's also quite traumatic because every time [I see a new doctor] I have to explain it," she added.

Describing her course of surgery, she said: "It's called MOAS - mother of all surgeries.

"They took out the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, greater omentum, lesser omentum, pelvic peritoneum, another bit of my peritoneum."

She added: "I keep saying I'm lucky or it wasn't too bad - my surgery was only about six hours.

"People say 'oh six hours' but some patients who have this, it's 12 to 14 hours."

Williams said she still had problems with her bowels and stomach as well as weak bones following the surgery and will continue to have annual scans for the foreseeable future - although her first scan in November showed no evidence of disease.

"They never say you are all clear. Because there's so few of us that have it, the stats are you can have up to 70% reoccurrence," she said.

Many people offered their support on social media, including former 5 Live presenter Shelagh Fogarty, who tweeted Williams to say she was sending her "tons of love" after what she had been through.

You, Me and The Big C - a podcast about living with cancer - was originally co-hosted by BBC presenter Rachael Bland, who died last year from cancer.

She presented the podcast with Lauren Mahon and Deborah James, who have also had cancer. They vowed to continue making the podcast after her death.

Listen to the full interview with Kate Williams on BBC Sounds here.

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