Community raises £4,000 to support mother dying of cancer

Melissa Lacey with her husband Carl and son Evan.
Melissa Lacey with her husband Carl and son Evan.
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MONEY raised to help a dying mum create lasting memories with her family has reached almost £4,000.

Touched by the tragic cancer diagnosis of Melissa Lacey, 33, from Tunstall, Sunderland, her former school friends set about creating a Memories For Melissa fund.

The mum-of-one could have just two years left with her son Evan, eight, and husband Carl, 38, and the friends are striving to create as many happy times for the family as possible.

Michelle Kenny, from Hall Farm, set the fund up with the intention of raising £500, but after the Echo reported on Melissa’s story the fund has almost reached the £4,000 mark.

Earlier this month we reported on Melissa’s agonising decision to stop chemotherapy, as she says “quality of life is better than quantity” after going through a harrowing battle with a cancer of the appendix so rare it affects just one in three million people.

Fund-raising events held in Sunderland include a charity night in Tranquillity salon in Ryhope which raised £500 and a £200 holiday voucher donated by Hay’s Travel.

Melissa has been so overwhelmed by people’s generosity.

Kielder Observatory in Northumberland has also offered a private group visit for the family.

Michelle said: “Melissa has been so overwhelmed by people’s generosity. She came to the charity night at Tranquillity and was just so touched by what people are doing.

“We’re not asking for a lot of money people, just a little bit each.”

Since being diagnosed with cancer of the appendix last June, Melissa has undergone an operation so gruelling it’s been dubbed “the mother of all surgeries” by medics.

So few people have stage four signet ring cell appendix cancer, that the vets receptionist had to travel to a specialist centre in Basingstoke for a 14 hour operation to have a number of organs removed, including three quarters of her small bowel, half of her large bladder and her gall bladder

The surgery was so extensive, because this type of cancer spreads throughout the abdomen, that surgeons rang Carl to warn him to expect the worst. Determined to survive, Melissa fought back and after returning home embarked on a course of chemotherapy.

But, after having extreme reactions to the treatment, which left her bed-bound with stroke-like symptoms, she’s chosen to stop the chemotherapy so she can live what life she has left to the full.

Melissa, who moved to Billingham when she married Carl, said: “Since I was diagnosed with cancer I’ve always said that quality comes over quantity. I want quality time with my little boy, my friends and family.”

Her former school friends from Southmoor School are hoping to raise enough money to send Melissa on a dream trip to DisneyWorld.

In the meantime, they are planning a special school reunion to be held in May.

l To learn more about a support group for those with a similar condition to Melissa visit

l To donate to Memories for Melissa visit