A FORMER dental nurse who was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer is ‘absolutely damned to live her life to the full’.

Christine Palfrey is now six years on from the devastating diagnosis doctors gave her back in January 2013.

This weekend the Bampton mum will be lacing up her trainers once again to take part in Oxford's Race for Life to fund research she hopes will one day help her.

Her 18-year-old daughter Victoria will also volunteer at the event, handing out medals and water at University Parks.

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Both want to highlight the importance of cancer research and how work is going on all the time to treat, diagnose and manage cancer treatment – even rare cancers like Ms Palfreys.

The 41-year-old was told she had an exceptionally rare cancer in her jaw called adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2013.

She underwent a twelve-hour operation to remove the tumour, with part of her jaw removed and replaced with her hip bone.

Surgeons also amputated part of her tongue.

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She said: “I knew this was major surgery as the doctors explained everything to me but I think I completely underestimated the gravity of it and the impact it would have on my life afterwards.

"My face completely changed and I had to learn to eat, drink, talk and walk again.”

She also underwent six weeks of radiotherapy treatment but recovered well.

The Oxford Times:

However, in 2014 she started to feel something wasn’t ‘quite right.’

The corporate compliance specialist said: “I didn’t have any symptoms but I just felt something was wrong.

"I asked to have another scan and unfortunately my hunch was right, doctors found secondary tumours on my lung."

She continued: “Doctors told me that the cancer is incurable but treatable. I felt absolutely crushed. Victoria was devastated and really struggled to come to terms with everything."

On Sunday she will be among hundreds of runners at Cancer Research UK's Race for Life event.

She said: “Race for Life for me is like giving cancer a kick in the face to say look you might be here, but I am still who I want to be. I am absolutely damned to live my life to the full.”

She added: “I know that events like Race for Life raise an incredible amount of money to support research and more importantly, awareness.

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“I know that more research into cancer – including rare cancers – is being done and I live in hope that some of that research will help me.”

Last year, Cancer Research UK spent £25 million on cancer research in Oxford.

Scientists in the city are focusing on a wide range of cancers, including oesophageal, bowel, pancreatic, and blood cancers, with particular expertise in drug development, computing, radiotherapy, surgery and imaging. Alison Birkett at Cancer Research UK, said everyday 83 people are diagnosed with cancer in the South East, adding: "People with cancer and their families are at the heart of everything we do and without their support we wouldn’t be able to carry out life-saving research.

To sign up for the 5K or 10K race visit raceforlife.org.