A MUM who is in remission for kidney cancer has launched a butterfly box project for patients who have been diagnosed with the illness.

Mary Stopher, 53, said she was “in complete shock” to discover she was living with a tumour on her left kidney.

She found out when she was having a CT scan for other health conditions in October 2017.

Within a month of her diagnosis, Mary underwent a six-hour operation to remove the tumour before being referred to a high-dependency unit.

Following a lengthy healing process, the mum-of-two was given the all clear more than two years later in November 2019.

Mary is now on a mission to help others suffering with kidney cancer by given newly diagnosed patients gift packages, called butterfly boxes.

And with this week marking Kidney Cancer Awareness Week, Mary has donated 20 of the butterfly boxes to patients at Colchester Hospital.

Mary, who lives in Sible Hedingham, said: “Butterfly boxes are for patients newly diagnosed with kidney cancer and who are embarking on a course of treatment.

“Each box will contain a few essential items and the much-needed information and guidance required in such difficult times for patients within the Colchester area.”

She is also hoping students from Harwich and Dovercourt High School will be able to raise awareness about kidney cancer and fundraise to keep the butterfly box project running as she has close links to the school.

Mary added: “My hope is to bring a little brightness to kidney cancer patients at a difficult time, and for them to know they are not alone and there is support out there.

“I have raised about £8,000 so far for kidney cancer, but wanted to do something a little more personal so that’s why I’m funding butterfly boxes.

“I have called them that because at the most poignant times during my illness, I had several encounters with a butterfly, at times when leaving the house for treatment, and at other stressful moments.

“Strangely, these encounters provided some comfort.”

According to Kidney Cancer UK, about 12,900 kidney cancers are diagnosed in the UK each year.

Mary said: “Kidney cancer is not a common cancer, and there are not often many symptoms.

“Sometimes when there are symptoms, unfortunately they are passed off as symptoms for a urinary tract infection or something similar.

“Also, a lot of the patients are older, however, this is changing, so it’s important to increase the awareness.

“The earlier it’s caught the better.”

Mary also suffers with other health conditions such as Ehlers Danlos - a secondary condition which causes her to be ill at times.

She also has a rare immune system condition called Antiphospholipid Syndrome, and she recently had an abnormal results after a brain CT scan, which has given her answers for other reasons for being unwell over the past few years.

“In some ways cancer helped my consultants find other answers,” she added.

“Recovery is different for everyone and it’s important to listen to your body.

“A diagnosis is life changing but it reminds us how precious life is.

“I’ve had clear scans again in November, so I feel blessed.”

To find out more visit, https://www.kcuk.org.uk/ or email butterflyboxeskc@hotmail.com.