Mum from Royston with terminal cancer crowdfunding for pioneering drugs
PUBLISHED: 12:01 14 June 2018
A mother from Royston with terminal breast cancer is hoping to raise £80,000 to fund pioneering treatment so she can spend more time with her husband and young son.
Leah O’Connell – who grew up in the town and studied at Studlands, Greneway and Meridian schools – was diagnosed with the disease in September 2016 while six months pregnant with her son, Seth.
The 34-year-old has been on gruelling treatment – including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery – ever since the diagnosis, which was made after she discovered a lump in her breast.
Despite the extensive treatment the disease has continued to advance through Leah’s bones and liver, and she is in increasing pain.
Her doctors tell her that the next best step involves expensive immunotherapy drugs.
Leah, who now lives in Ware with 18-month-old Seth and her husband Colm, launched a crowdfunding appeal three weeks ago with the help of family and friends to raise money to pay for this new treatment.
While the drugs she needs are showing great promise in trials, they need to be privately funded as they are not yet licensed for breast cancer. This means they are not available through the NHS or health insurance.
Within the first 24 hours, more than 320 people donated almost £22,000 to support Leah’s treatment – and the total has now passed the £50,000 mark.
Leah, who is an events organiser, said: “This is not a position we ever thought we would find ourselves in, but the response to our appeal has been amazing and means I can access a drug I thought I may never get. It gives me an opportunity to spend more time with Seth and Colm.
“We are overwhelmed by people’s generosity and kindness. We are hoping to raise £80,000 to fund a full year’s supply of the drug.”
Husband Colm, 39, added: “We want to get the best possible treatment for Leah so that she can spend as long as possible being a mother to Seth. It has been a very traumatic and stressful time, but the generosity of both people we know and strangers is giving us renewed hope.”
Leah is due to imminently start the self-funded immunotherapy drug, which stimulates the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.
To donate to her fundraising appeal, see justgiving.com/crowdfunding/For-Leah.