Good news, gathered: Breast cancer survivor beats COVID after 89 days in hospital

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
Photo credit: Ana Davila

From Cosmopolitan

It's hard not to feel a sense of doom and gloom during the coronavirus crisis; with death tolls rising, fear spreading, and life looking completely unrecognisable to the way it did just a few months ago, it's a very weird time.

All this means that hearing good news is more important than ever before. Little sparkling gems of hope among the darkness now have the power to raise your whole mood, helping you to get through another day in lockdown. So every week, Cosmopolitan UK pledges to bring you some of the good news stories that may have been buried among all the sad stuff. Don't forget to come back each week to get your fix of positivity with our Good News, Gathered series.

So... this week on the good news agenda:

Lockdown is being lifted!

If you've been struggling for the past three months, living in lockdown, then this week will have been an important one for you. On Tuesday, Boris Johnson revealed plans in the House of Commons for how lockdown restrictions will be significantly eased over the coming weeks.

Discussing social distancing, the Prime Minister told Parliament: "From now on, we will ask people to follow guidance instead of legislation." He also announced that from July 4, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and more could reopen their doors to the public. Although there'll be a strict set of rules for businesses to follow, to ensure they're hosting customers safely and responsibly, it's the biggest shift we've had yet for moving out of lockdown. Some of Boris' announcements were even met by cheers of "hallelujah" by his fellow politicians.

Photo credit: Barcroft Media - Getty Images

Breast cancer survivor beats COVID after 89 days in hospital

It's always moving to see videos of patients being clapped and cheered as they're discharged from hospital following treatment for coronavirus. But it was an extra special moment for 63-year-old Janice Benham, who recovered from breast cancer last year but then contracted the dangerous virus.

Janice and her husband Phillip both caught coronavirus while on holiday in Morocco in mid-March, where they had gone to celebrate Janice getting the all-clear for cancer. Sadly, both suffered badly with COVID-19, and were admitted to hospital. Phillip was treated on a ward for four days before being well enough to go home home, but Janice was so unwell she had to spend two weeks in intensive care. Last week, however, 89 days after first being admitted to King George Hospital in Ilford, she was discharged.

The hospital posted a video of the special moment on Facebook, and later shared an update to say the family celebrated with a BBQ for her daughter's birthday. What a happy hopeful story. Here's hoping Janice and her family remain in good health.

Normal People is coming back into our lives

One of the things that helped most of us through lockdown was when the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's Normal People landed on iPlayer. It was 12 episodes that allowed you to escape into the lives of normal-but-incredibly-beautiful people Connell and Marianne, and we mourned it when it was over. But this week we learned we're getting a tiny taste more from the pair - including a glimpse 40 years into the future.

It's been confirmed that Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal will be reuniting for the sketches as part of RTÉ Does Comic Relief, which will air this very evening (Friday 26 June). The two special shows will reveal more about Connell and Marianne's fate, and we can't wait.

"There’s a beautiful piece called Normal Older People, which is imagining what would have happened to Marianne and Connell 40 years from now. I promise you, these are two very special bits," Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis told RTÉ Radio 1.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. That is all we have to say.

Photo credit: BBC

And now, take a look back at what made us smile last week:

The COVID-19 alert level has been reduced in the UK

Possibly the most exciting coronavirus-related news this week is that the UK has officially downgraded its alert level for COVID-19 from four to three. The highest level is five, and this is the first time there's been a change to the rating, which was introduced on 10 May.

At level four, it meant transmission of the virus was considered to be "high or rising exponentially", whereas the new level assesses that it's now merely "in general circulation", meaning a "gradual relaxation of restrictions" is possible.

The government made the decision to lower the alert level following advice from experts at the Joint Biosecurity Centre. In a joint statement, the Chief Medical Officers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said: "There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues." They warned, however, that this change "does not mean that the pandemic is over," as "localised outbreaks are likely to occur".

The Department of Health and Social Care continues to advise that washing hands regularly and keeping at a safe distance from others is "critical".

Students can use their free time for good

A few weeks ago on Good News, Gathered, we told you about Furlonteer, a non-profit project that connects people on furlough with remote charity volunteer opportunities, enabling them to share their skills and stay busy while at home and off work. Well, now there's a sister project, Studenteer, focussing specifically on students and graduates.

The new initiative aims to help the younger generation use the time they're not spending studying to help make a positive change for charities, causes or small businesses in need. But it's not necessarily just a one-way thing; with over a quarter (27%) of employers recruiting fewer graduates, and hiring 31% fewer interns and placement students, Studenteer connects ambitious and skilled students who have frustratingly lost out on employment opportunities, with valuable experience in the sectors of marketing, business development, design and website development for a good cause. Plus, making some new contacts could be beneficial in the long-term.

You can find out more about Studenteer here.

Affordable drug proven to save lives from coronavirus

In yet another promising pandemic-related update, a drug trial led by scientists from Oxford University have discovered that a cheap and widely available steroid, Dexamethasone, can significantly reduce death rates in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

The study, in which 2,000 hospital patients were given the drug while more than 4,000 others were not, found that for patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%. For patients needing oxygen (but not via a ventilator), it cut the risk of death from 25% to 20%.

Chief investigator Professor Peter Horby, who worked on the trial, described the findings as "a major breakthrough," saying it's "the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality."

18-year-old Marium Zummer, who was admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary with serious coronavirus symptoms, was given the medicine as part of the trial, and believes it saved her life. "I can say it was a lifesaver. [My doctor] said to me, 'In a week you will hopefully be home', and a week later, I did come home," she told BBC Breakfast in an interview.

Photo credit: John Phillips - Getty Images

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