Amateur artist Ann Wood is putting on an art exhibition at a community centre in Warrington to raise awareness of oesophageal cancer. 

Prior to diagnosis, Ann (51) had climbed Ska Fell Pike, exercised regularly, did not smoke or drink and followed the usual healthy lifestyle guidance of eating more than five fruit and vegetables a day. She was not regarded as being at risk of oesophageal cancer but had a cousin who had been treated for the disease. Towards the end of 2017, she developed severe heartburn, a lingering sore throat and a scratchy pain in the chest that came on suddenly for several weeks in a row after attending a weights class. Thinking she had overdone the exercise and developed a hiatus hernia, she consulted her GP and pushed for a gastroscopy, which showed an early tumour in her oesophagus. 

Ann is raising awareness of this disease through an exhibition of drawings she did whilst undergoing treatment last year. The exhibition falls exactly a year since the life changing surgery she had to remove the cancer, which has left her with a number of challenges, especially around eating and staying hydrated. The drawings explain the highs and lows of life while undergoing cancer treatment. Ann does not describe her artwork as pretty, nor can it be classed as fine art, but she hopes that it will send out a message. 

Cancer of the oesophagus has been responsible for the deaths of actors Humphrey Bogart and John Thaw, writers Philip Larkin and Harold Pinter, motorcyclist Barry Sheene, lawyer Robert Kardashian, musician Chas Hodges (of Chas and Dave) and more recently, the comedian Jeremy Hardy. 

“It is a remarkably unsexy disease and rarely gets an airing in the media because the oesophagus is hidden away and quite uninteresting. Also, people often think heartburn is normal and getting it investigated may be viewed as wasting a Doctors time. It is always worth it as the consequences are so great if ignored and most people present too late.” 

Ann's Story has also been told in her local paper, The Warrington Guardian in a bid to raise awareness.

If you would like see Ann’s drawings, the exhibition “The Art of Oesophageal Cancer” is on display at the Taylor Gallery, The Old School, Fairfield Street, Warrington from 29/5/19-27/6/19.

Her art book can be purchased directly or downloaded (with the request of a donation to HCUK) from her website Oesophagectomy Life, which also gives more detail about Ann's journey.