Rare cancer takes life of Norfolk woman, aged just 29

Victoria Cornish, nee Johnston, and her husband Fynn. Picture by James Melia

Victoria Cornish, nee Johnston, and her husband Fynn. Picture by James Melia

James Melia Photography

A grieving husband has vowed to ensure the “awe-inspiring spirit” of his wife lives on, after a rare form of cancer took her life at the age of just 29.

Victoria Cornish, nee Johnston, and her husband Fynn. Picture by James Melia Victoria Cornish, nee Johnston, and her husband Fynn. Picture by James Melia

Victoria Cornish died last Wednesday surrounded by her loved ones after the cancer, adrenal cortical carcinoma (ACC), finally got the better of her.

Since first being diagnosed with the rare cancer in the summer of 2010 Victoria and her husband, Fynn, had been working to increase awareness and raise funds to research the incurable cancer.

The couple decided to take the romantic step of walking down the aisle together despite Victoria’s illness and were married in November 2011.

Fynn, 28, said: “Words alone cannot truly capture Victoria’s awe-inspiring spirit. On the 16th January 2013, the world sadly lost a remarkable soul full of courage, ambition and a beauty that is akin to the forces of nature itself.

Victoria’s “Phoenix” moment

An extract from the blog of Victoria Cornish - Poppies and Epiphanies

“This is going to be hard and hurt like hell, there is no denying that. You made a promise to Joey, Fynn and your mum and dad.

True you have hit rock bottom, but lying in the gutter you can still aim for the stars. Some people might have it easier but this isn’t about them, it’s about you and only you! Your life.

If you don’t own this then no one will do it for you. Do what you have always done and you will only receive what you have always received.

Do what is necessary even if that is hard, for nothing easy was ever worth doing. Do what is necessary and you will earn your rewards.

No one ever called life fair; it can be cruel and harsh but it can also be beautiful and awe inspiring.

Change your perspective, change your expectations but never change your principals. Do what is right and never give up on hope.”

- To read Victoria’s blog, and Fynn’s most recent update about his wife’s final days, go to

“In 2010 she was diagnosed with the ultra rare cancer adrenal cortical carcinoma (ACC). This sadly has no current known cure, despite research being undertaken by Dr Hammer of the University of Michigan.

“The university is one of only a handful of organisations in the world to conduct such research for this devastating disease, and, therefore, became a project dear to Victoria’s heart.”

Victoria grew up in rural Cambridgeshire before moving to Norwich to work for National Express in 2007.

The couple, who moved to Hockering, west of Norwich, launched a social organisation called Imagine It, through which they raise funds and increase awareness in a bid to overcome ACC.

Victoria, nee Johnston, also diaried her “rollercoaster journey” using an online blog which soon attracted many well-wishers, entitled Poppies and Epiphanies.

Fynn continued: “Despite being so young when diagnosed with this aggressive cancer, which threatens extreme and upsetting symptoms, Victoria took it upon her shoulders to raise awareness of ACC and document her experience as a cancer patient via her blog.

“Her writing is an honest account of her rollercoaster journey; from diagnosis through to her last days in this world. The blog is bursting with emotional highs and lows, yet every word is bravely written to hold the hand of those in similar positions, so they don’t have to fight the unknown and loneliness that this disease can hold.”

Victoria had a tattoo on her lower back of a Phoenix, to epitomise her fighting spirit, and didn’t allow the ACC to slow her down.

She took part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, a sky dive from 13,000ft with the British Army’s Tigers parachute display team, trained a horse to fitness for an 11-mile ride, rode an Olympic silver medallist horse called Quince and judged and presented awards at Fakenham Racecourse.

The Durham University archaeology graduate’s lifelong love of equine was another of the defining characteristics her husband described, before adding: “Vicky chose to fill her life with moments whether they were grand experiences or small appreciative moments such as a good cup of tea and a Twix after a walk in the woods with her young collie, Toast.

“It has been said by many, that Victoria managed to achieve and experience more than most people manage in their entire life time.

“All of these choices came from within Victoria, from that underlying spirit, out of which her natural beauty shone through the countless memories we have of her and the lasting lessons she has taught us.”

The Johnston and Cornish families are welcoming people who wish to pay their respects to Victoria at a funeral service on Tuesday.

The service is being held at St Stephen’s Church, in Etton, near Peterborough, from 1.30pm.

Formal attire is requested, with the option of wearing a flower of choice. Floral tributes of any style can be sent to Watkins & Stafford Funeral Sevice of Peterborough or brought to the church.

A private family committal will follow the church service but people are invited to join Victoria’s family in celebrating her life following the ceremony at the White Hart pub in Ufford.

Her family are also strongly encouraging support for the University of Michigan in their research into a cure for ACC, as well as donations to be made in Victoria’s memory at

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