A Northern Ireland mother with terminal cancer has pleaded for help to raise funds for treatment to give her ‘precious’ time with her children.
Lesley Kennedy, a mother of three from Maydown in Londonderry, wants to raise £20,000 for a revolutionary treatment - Selective Internal Radio Therapy (SIRT).
She was just 32-years-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Nine months later Lesley was in remission and "finally felt like I had got my life back".
“I took up running and I had never felt better. I really got a whole new lease of life. I even ran the Derry half marathon last year.”
A short time after completing the half marathon, Lesley began experiencing pains. She then got the devastating news that the cancer had metastasized to her liver.
“It is not a good prognosis when you have had breast cancer and it travels to one of the major organs. The doctors told me I had between two and five years to live.”
She said: “The cancer is inoperable and I was put on palliative chemotherapy. There is no cure; the chemotherapy is never going to cure the cancer it is just going to prolong your life for as long as it works.”
Lesley began receiving a tablet form of chemotherapy in December last year, however, she had to be taken off this when she began ‘mimicking’ the syptoms of a heart attack. She now gets IV chemotherapy once every three weeks which is ‘severe’ on her body.
“I would be really sick for about a week after and then my immune system will be very low. I have to avoid crowds and this has a huge impact on our family life. I spend most of my time sleeping after treatment.”
Lesley has three boys, 14-years-old Ben, nine-year-old Jake and seven-years-old Corey and she worries about the impact on them.
“You can see the look of fear on their faces. They are so young and have had to witness everything I am going through and take on so much worry at such a young age.”
Lesley has done everything she can possibly do to improve her prognosis, including switching to an Alkaline diet.
However, a recent scan has shown that the tumours on her liver continue to grow. She began doing her own research online and came across the revolutionary treatment SIRT which she now believes is her only hope of prolonging her life.
The treatment is available to bowel cancer patients with liver metastasis on the NHS. However, it is not available to breast cancer patients with liver metastasis. It has huge success rates as it allows doctors to deliver radiation directly to the site of the tumour.
Lesley can receive the treatment as a private patient in Manchester and has set up a fundraising page to help gather the money. Her initial target is £20,000, however the treatment may actually cost more than this and Lesley is to travel to England later today to find out more information.
“I want to be here for my boys and I will do anything I can. I have never asked for help before but this could let me have extra time with my children.”
She said she has been overwhelmed by the response so far, with more than £15,000 raised in just four days.
“The people of Derry are just so generous. I have been bombarded with messages from people offering to help and I can’t thank them enough.”
Lesley said her children are her reason to go on. “It would be so easy for me to give up and say I can’t do this anymore, but my children need their mother. This treatment is an opportunity to prolong my life.”
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lesley-kennedy-1