A NON-SMOKER battling advanced lung cancer is backing a campaign to raise funds for vital research into the disease.

Sharon Ereira has never smoked and kept herself healthy but still developed the illness.

The 42-year-old, who is continuing to undergo treatment, has joined forces with Cancer Research UK for the charity’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign.

Ms Ereira, from Cuckfield, near Haywards Heath, was diagnosed in September last year.

Following tests she was told the cancer had spread to her bones and liver and could only be treated with chemotherapy.

Ms Ereira said: “My whole world imploded. The news was the worst it could be. When the consultant told me it had spread to the liver, I thought, ‘I am finished’.

“Then I thought 'but I am not finished with my life.'”

After six months of chemotherapy Ms Ereira developed complications including pneumonia and anaemia.

Treatment was stopped but within a month the tumours in her liver spread and it began to fail.

Ms Ereira was given the drug Crizotinib, which specifically targets lung cancer, and her liver function has since improved.

She said: “At the moment my energy levels are the best they’ve been in 10 months and this is such an enormous relief.

“My quality of life has improved, which means I can get out and about more. I still have to rest a lot and I’m not able to work but I’m just so grateful to feel better than I have in a long time.

“I live in hope. In my head I have a picture of the future and I’m a part of it and then there is another part of me that recognises the reality of how this could pan out.

“Then there’s the middle ground where I take each day as it comes and do what I can when I feel well.

“My life has been turned upside down and I did wonder why I got this particular cancer when I don’t smoke and have always looked after my health.

“But I was able to receive targeted treatment which seems to be working for me. So I’m very fortunate in an unfortunate situation.

“I want others to gain positives from my experience as I hope it raises awareness of lung cancer in younger, active, non-smoking adults and I’d like to do something to help others in my situation.”

Stand Up To Cancer aims to raise money to fund vital research which will get new and better treatments to cancer patients faster.

A Cancer Research UK spokeswoman said: “Stand Up To Cancer funds translational research that aims to have a real impact on patients’ lives.

“We’ve made amazing progress against cancer in the past few decades.

“The money raised is helping change the face of cancer research by funding clinical trials, which means new and improved treatments can be tested and then given to people who need them most.”