Love Island's Demi Jones admits she posted about having cancer on social media BEFORE telling her family
LOVE Island's Demi Jones revealed she posted about her cancer diagnosis on social media before telling her family.
The reality star, 22, tearfully told her fans she had thyroid cancer on Instagram before undergoing an operation to remove a golf-ball size tumour.
In a new interview, Demi said she regretted not telling her family first and admitted she got swept up in the emotion of the diagnosis.
She told The Zeze Mills Show: "When I first found out it could be cancerous, I was in shock and I was crying because I went on social media, and I shouldn’t have done that because I hadn’t even told my family yet.
"I don’t even know why, I can’t even tell you because my head was scrambled and I was like 'Oh my God, guys!'"
Demi's surgery to remove the lump from her neck has left a two-inch scar and she still needs another operation to remove her entire thyroid.
In a recent interview with The Sun, she said: “At first I felt really self- conscious about it but then my nan told me to stop worrying about it. It’s a small price to pay for still being here.”
The diagnosis was even more of a shock given Demi had been told the lump was harmless.
The coronavirus pandemic led to months of delayed appointments and Demi said she had to push doctors for further tests.
She said: “If I’d listened to the doctors then I might be sitting here now not knowing I had cancer inside me.
“I’ve felt scared and angry. I went for a coffee the other day with a friend and said ‘Why me? I don’t know anyone my age who has got cancer’. But I’m lucky, my cancer is treatable.”
While rare, thyroid cancer diagnoses have increased in the past 20 years, and it is now the most common form of cancer in women aged between 15 and 30.
Often symptomless, it happens when DNA changes in the cells in the thyroid gland at the base of the neck, causing them to grow uncontrollably and produce a lump.
Demi was just 20 and at university when, in January 2019, she noticed a lump on the right side of her neck.
“I could see it when I swallowed. I kept meaning to tell Mum, but I was so busy preparing for exams I just dismissed it.”
It wasn’t until she went back home to Portsmouth in the summer that Demi mentioned it to her mum Karen.
She said: “She went into panic mode and said I needed to get a referral.”
That came in July, and in October she went to her local hospital for a scan, ultrasound and blood test. After those she was told her lump was a harmless nodule.
She said: “The tests all came back completely clear. Even today I don’t know why the ultrasound didn’t show anything.”
Demi’s apparent good news was overshadowed when her beloved stepfather Adrian, then just 46, was told he had incurable Stage 4 melanoma and had just months to live.
He had first been to see a doctor 18 months earlier after finding a lump on his ear, which he suspected was skin cancer, but had struggled to be referred to a specialist. Now it was too late.
Demi said: “The doctors said he was covered top to toe in cancer and all they could do was manage it. We were all devastated.”
Demi took the decision to fly to South Africa and join Love Island as part of the cast for the 2020 season.
She said: “I didn’t want to leave him but he was insistent I went. He didn’t want me to miss out on this amazing opportunity.”
Demi spent four weeks in the villa, enjoying two romances, with builder Nas Majeed and Justin Bieber lookalike Luke Mabbott.
She left at the start of March, two weeks before the UK went into lockdown.
Six months later, Demi noticed the lump had grown and made another doctor’s appointment.
Her appointment was pushed back six times over seven months, an experience shared by thousands of others during lockdown, which has seen huge delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier this year medical journal The Lancet reported that around 40,000 fewer people than normal started cancer treatment in the UK last year, while disruptions to service meant that 60 per cent of referrals are waiting longer than three months.
Finally, at the end of March, the hospital called asking Demi to come in the following week.
But once again her blood tests and ultrasound did not show that anything was amiss.
The doctors offered to drain the fluid from her lump and send it for testing, telling her they would see her again in two weeks.
Yet when she returned to the hospital a fortnight later — alone, due to Covid rules — she was to receive devastating news.
Demi recalls: “Pretty much as soon as I had walked in the consultant said, ‘We’re really sorry. We think it could be thyroid cancer. We need this cut out of you as quickly as possible’.
“I was in complete shock. It was a cancer I didn’t even know existed, and now I had it. I called my mum, sobbing down the phone.”
Dazed and devastated, Demi also put the news on her Instagram feed. She was inundated with calls from worried family and friends, among them her Love Island co-stars.
She says: “My brother called me saying, ‘What the hell?’ Lots of people were really worried and I had to reassure them.”
Two weeks later Demi returned to the hospital for the lump to be removed and sent off for testing.
She said: “I was incredibly anxious as I’d never had any kind of surgery before, and while it sounds silly, I was worried about the scar on my neck.
“Now I’ve decided to really own it because I’ve had a few young girls message me who have had thyroid cancer saying it’s been nice to see someone with a scar.”
Symptoms of thyroid cancer
The symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
- If you notice a painless lump or swollen glands in your neck
- Difficulty swallowing food and drink
- A sore throat that doesn't go away after a number of weeks
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