Health

Face of controversial cancer campaign dies days after her wedding

"I wish I had breast cancer" campaign

A 24-year-old who became the face of a controversial pancreatic cancer campaign has died just days after getting married and 10 months following her diagnosis.

Kerry Harvey featured in graphic images that showed tumours protruding from her scalp and quoted her as saying “I wish I had breast cancer”. The inflammatory advertisement drew more than 100 complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in the UK and resulted in Harvey being subjected to online abuse and death threats.

But Pancreatic Cancer Action, the charity responsible for the campaign, argued that its purpose was to highlight the exceedingly poor survival rates of pancreatic cancer with just three per cent of people surviving five years.

Now Mrs Harvey, a former cancer nurse herself, has become an example of the poor prognosis for pancreatic cancer sufferers in the most dreaded way.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Ali Stunt, said they were “deeply saddened” to hear of Mrs Harvey’s death.

“Since her diagnosis in April 2013, she devoted a significant amount of her own time trying to raise the profile of the disease that she, like many other pancreatic cancer patients, had not heard of before her diagnosis,” she said.

“Kerry campaigned with selfless vigour and, despite facing criticism, wanted to help others by encouraging earlier diagnosis and attract more funds for research.

“She said herself, ‘Some people have to shout louder and I’m on my rooftop with a megaphone’.

“We are so grateful to her contribution to our awareness campaign.”

Mrs Harvey responded to the outcry over the campaign via social media, tweeting: “Some breast cancer charities/patients etc have been upset. Understand why & sympathise but don’t regret it.”

Her husband Matthew Biggin said: “I felt that as this incredible woman has done such amazing works and touched so many lives people deserved to honour her memory.”

The couple began dating more than a year ago before Mrs Harvey’s diagnosis and they married on Wednesday.

In 2010, 8,455 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in the same year 7,921 died as a result of the disease.

Pancreatic Cancer Action says that the disease was the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the UK but only received one per cent of overall research funding.

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