A mum and her loved ones have set a £100,000 target to fund treatment which could save her life after she was given a one-in-a-million cancer diagnosis.
Lisa Westwood’s rare cervical cancer was diagnosed when the nurse carrying out her regular smear check raised concerns.
Since September, the 35-year-old nursery nurse has undergone a procedure which aims to remove abnormal cells, a course of radiotherapy, sessions of chemotherapy and had lymph nodes removed.
But in addition to the gruelling course of drugs, she has had three strokes due to a heart condition caused by the cancer, leading to surgery and further complications, and leaving her partially sighted.
The disease, which is still in her lymph nodes, is also present in her lungs, with litres of fluid drained away by medics, with the added complications leaving her in need of intensive care treatment on three occasions.
Doctors say the chemotherapy offers a 10% success rate but immunotherapy treatment could give her the best chance of recovery.
Now Lisa and her friends and family have launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to help fund the treatment abroad, with specialists looking into where can give her the therapy she needs to beat the condition known as metastatic mucinous adenocarcinoma.
More than £8,000 has been raised so far.
“It’s a very aggressive cervical cancer, it’s very rare,” she said.
“If they’d taken a smear test, it wouldn’t have shown up.
“The doctor has said they way they usually know is when it gets into the system when it’s too late or at post mortem.
“I’m still trying to process it to be honest because so much has happened.”
Lisa - who lives in Fencehouses with partner Ray Mcteer, 35, an auto-technician, and is mum to Michael, 17, Owen, 10, and Paige, nine - has already been astounded with the response to the campaign so far.
Fundraisers have included a sponsored walk led by parents at Dubmire Primary School, including Kayleigh Simpson, Kylie Todd, Julie Snaith and Kimberley Simpson, and a night held at her home village’s Royal British Legion which raised £1,200.
Lisa, who works at Nesham Private Nursery in Houghton, added: “It think it’s great, bless them.
“I’m over the moon, I can’t put into words how much I appreciate it all.
“To see how much people have done and I want to thank them, it’s brilliant because they’ve raised a lot of money in just the village.”
Ray has said the NHS has said Lisa is not eligible for any of its trials and the cost of this immunotherapy treatment is not something the family can afford.
While UK options are being drawn up for her, it is likely she was have to travel elsewhere for treatment.
Ray said: “The immunotherapy alerts the immune system to the cancer and fights it off.
“People have been given six months to live and been given this immunotherapy and it’s worked and the chances are increased.
“Lisa’s strength of character is that she wants to get in and carry on.”
Lisa’s friend Tonia Kerr, 35, a senior care worker, has also helped support her by collecting funds.
“I just think she’s fantastic, she’s got angry some times but I would be more angry - it’s taken her a couple of months.
“But she’s been able to say ‘I will get over this, I will fight this’ where as other people may give up, she’s always been like that.
Fundraisers already lined up include a family fun day at Kepier Hall on Monday, April 15, from 10am to 2pm, and an evening of live singing at The Burnside on Friday, May 3.
Donations can be made via www.gofundme.com/6vnie8w