Hero cancer doctor saved my life – now I’m proud to show off my beautiful scar, says Love Island star Demi Jones


WALKING into a room to see a consultant, Demi Jones had no idea just how much his words would change her life. 

Covid regulations meant she was all alone and just 22 when he dropped the bombshell that she had cancer in her neck and would need to have it cut out.

Reality star Demi Jones says she is proud of the scar left behind from her surgery
Demi is nominating Dr Costa Repanos, who did all her surgeries, for a HOAR Who Cares Wins Award

As her world came crashing down, surgeon Costa Repanos was there for her, providing the emotional support she would have had from friends and family pre-pandemic.

Now, in an exclusive chat with HOAR, 23-year-old Demi says NHS “superheroes” became like family while she went through her treatment.

Meanwhile they have hailed her a lifesaver after her public journey with the cruel disease prompted more than 100 people to come forward – including Hollyoaks actress Abi Phillips – to have their lumps checked.

Demi is nominating her health heroes for our Who Cares Wins awards, and urges readers to do the same.

Nominate your NHS hero here

Demi says: “I can never do enough to thank Mr Repanos for saving my life, cutting cancer out of me and leaving me with this beautiful scar that I am proud to show off.

“I cannot thank the NHS enough for their kindness and warmth throughout one of the scariest times in my life. 

“Because I was diagnosed and treated during lockdown, the entire thing was extremely isolating and I couldn’t have any of my family with me whenever I went into the hospital.

“They made me feel so at ease and comfortable even though I was going through something really traumatic.”



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Demi, who made it to the final of winter Love Island in 2020 with Luke Mabbott, first noticed the lump when she was just 20.

She dismissed it at the time as she was busy sitting her final year exams at university, and didn’t think for a minute it could be anything sinister.

Demi was eventually diagnosed in May 2021, having had the lump checked out at the insistence of her mum.

She underwent surgery to remove the cancerous lump, followed by a second thyroidectomy op to remove her entire thyroid.

Demi had two surgeries to remove the cancer and then her thyroid

Demi said her surgeon made her feel confident having a scar and made it neat

The star opened up to fans about the ordeal, admitting her treatment left her feeling “tired all the time”.

In December last year she celebrated being “cancer free” after a “mentally and physically difficult year”.

She said: “I will continue to be an advocate for cancer awareness and all my love and strength goes out to those who continue to fight this awful disease.”

Stepdad’s battle

Demi is close with her stepdad and was devastated by his cancer diagnosis
Demi’s mum and stepdad got married after Adrian’s terminal diagnosis

Around the same time Demi received her diagnosis, her stepdad Adrian also had a lump checked out.

His turned out to be stage 4 melanoma, with a terminal prognosis.

Medics told Demi and her devastated mum Karen that Adrian, 46, had just 12 months to live.

Thankfully the family has had an extra four years with Adrian, after doctors put him forward for a clinical trial.

Like Demi, Adrian was treated at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, receiving a year of immunotherapy.

Demi says: “Without the NHS we wouldn’t have had all this extra time with him.

“We were shocked to be told they thought he had just 12 months initially. We all shut down and went into grief mode. 

“They got him into a clinical trial which he has responded really well to, and sometimes we forget that his cancer is terminal because he seems so healthy. The care has been exceptional.”

While her stepdad is making the most of the time he has left, Demi is forever thankful that she is now cancer-free. 

The reality star has calls with her surgeon every three months and will be given scans each year for the next decade.

Since sharing her cancer journey Demi has been inundated with supportive messages from people who have also gone through it, as well as fans who got their own lumps checked out. 

‘Superman’ doc

Talking about her reason for nominating Mr Rapanos for the Best Doctor accolade in HOAR’s Who Cares Wins awards, she says: “I’m so excited to nominate Mr Repanos because he is superman. 

“I am so grateful to him, he’s incredibly special to me. He was the person who gave me my diagnosis and is the person I am still in contact with now.

“I feel lucky to have been under his expert treatment.

“He treated me like an individual and was so compassionate, and outside of that he’s trekking the Arctic to raise money for terminally ill children to get to have their final wishes granted.”

Demi says the “little things” – like unlimited tea and ice cream and a friendly smile – made a difference during her treatment.

She was also offered mental health counselling to cope with the diagnosis. 

The NHS care was extended to her mum, who was having to deal with two members of her family being diagnosed with different forms of the disease. 

Demi says: “Even though just one person is going through cancer, which is horrendous, it’s like a tidal wave that affects everyone.

“The NHS has given my mum so much emotional support to cope with everything. It’s been such a heavy burden with her husband being really sick and then her daughter also having cancer. 

“But she’s always had the NHS staff to turn to. It’s made her feel more relaxed knowing that that support is just a phone call away.”

A chance to say thanks

Demi recommends nominating your health heroes in one of our award categories as a way to thank them for their hard work. 

The deadline for putting forward an amazing medic is July 12 and the finalists will be invited to a glitzy awards ceremony in London. 

Demi says: “It’s so important to nominate your own health heroes. They work around the clock. 

“It’s so important to praise them and make them feel good about their job, so they get the recognition they deserve. And just to say thank you really.”

Demi chose to share the news in the spur of the moment after finding out she had cancer

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Rise in thyroid checks

Upon learning of his nomination from Demi, Mr Repanos says: “It’s really humbling to realise, particularly for cancer patients, the profound, life-changing effect that we have on our patients’ lives. 

“For such a young lady, Demi is an incredibly brave, smart and determined individual and it’s been a pleasure to have been involved in her care.”

Matthew Ward, Consultant ENT, Head and Neck, Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgeon at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, adds: “It’s fantastic that Demi has been so upfront in the media about her cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

“I have certainly seen a number of patients in recent months who have come to see us in the ENT department because they have read about Demi’s journey.

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“Thyroid cancer can affect very young patients, and so it is important that people do see a specialist if they are worried.”

The department has seen 119 more people referred for lumps in their necks than last year, which they think has been helped by Demi.