I have started this page as I am fighting to save the life of my beloved husband Mike Brandon for the second time in 2 years.
In January 2014, one month after Mike proposed, he was diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Mike required a stem cell transplant to stand any chance of survival so we created the #Shake4Mike campaign to encourage more people onto the donor registry.
The campaign went viral and through Anthony Nolan we were lucky enough to find a match for Mike and on 26th June 2014, his 30th birthday, Mike received his lifesaving transplant.
Despite all the setbacks and undoubtedly the hardest year of our lives, we were able to get married in June 2015 as hope grew that Mike was on the mend. His condition continued to improve following the transplant and we were able to start living our lives again, both of us returning to work as we began to plan our family and our future.
Tragedy strikes again
Having battled through rejection of multiple anti-Cancer drugs, undergoing more than 20 grueling bone marrow biopsies, contracting pneumonia and receiving five further infusions of cells from his donor, we all believed he was on the path to full recovery. But the day before Easter Friday we were given the devastating news that Mike’s leukaemia had returned and was spreading at an aggressive rate.
How we can save him
Having exhausted all of the options available to us in the UK we were informed of a revolutionary new treatment that has shown extraordinary rates of success for people in Mike’s position. After huge efforts to find a trial of this treatment (CAR T-Cell Therapy) we have now started discussions with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Centre, USA where he is thought to be a suitable candidate.
Whilst the actual treatment is funded by the University, the medical costs associated with its administration must be self funded. We need to raise at least £400,000 to save his life. We cannot do this without your help, which is why I am here again to ask you to share our page, spread the word and donate whatever you can to help me save the life of the most wonderful man I have ever met.
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I know Mike will not mean the same to you as he does to me, but I am facing the pain of losing the person I care for most in the entire world, so anything you can do to help, I will be eternally grateful for.
Please note: Any extra money raised will be donated to the Bristol Royal Infirmary Haematology Oncology Unit who have been incredible throughout this two year struggle.
So sorry this update has been long overdue!
We are now 3 years post CAR T Cells and Mike remains in remission! Thank you CAR Ts, thank you Professor Marks and Bristol Haematology Oncology Centre, thank you Dr Frey and Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, thank you Donate4Mikers, we continue to be grateful every single day to everyone who fought to keep Mike alive.
We still go through scary times and it feels like life still involves walking on a tightrope, but with the more time that passes, the more clear tests he receives, our confidence builds and that tightrope becomes a little less scary.
Living in this way has its challenges but it’s a constant reminder to us to be super grateful for the small things; cuddles on the sofa, giggles with friends and family, singing to the dog.... I feel like I have fallen in love with him a little bit deeper with each hurdle we jump. We are so so lucky! The truth is despite the ‘scares’ Mike has been really well since the CAR T Cell treatment and life continues to get more exciting and fulfilling.
Our latest set of firsts for 2018- 2019 in no particular order…
We both ran our first 10km
Mike completed all his vaccinations
We went to Disneyland! (And yes we used a FastPass to meet Minnie and Mickey!)
Mike ran his first half marathon!
Mike played his first game of squash (badly), and… after 4 rounds of IVF we are almost 6 months pregnant!!!!
More incredibly than all of this though, is that CAR T Cell treatment is now being offered in the UK! We still hope to add to our Above and Beyond fundraising pot, although what we’ve raised so far will hopefully give a bit of support to families now going through CAR T Cell therapy. The treatment can be a rough old ride, so anything to take the edge off can make all the difference. In a super hard moment in the Philadelphia hospital cafeteria, a complete stranger paid for my lunch to offer a bit of TLC. I will remember it forever and it still makes my eyes water. Little gestures of care can mean the world.
All the love in the world
Kate and Mike xxx
PS I will try and get some of the footage of last weeks BBC Points West interview up on the FB page so you can see how well Mike looks for yourselves!
Mike is doing SSSOOOOOOOOOO WELL! We have certainly had a few scares along the way the last 6 months but generally now he is flying from strength to strength! So many good things have happened I don’t even know where to start…
We had Mike’s 1 year follow-up back in Philadelphia in June and Mike is still in complete remission! This is BIG news. To hit the 1 year marker is very significant post CAR T Cell treatment and we have absolutely smashed it! We still have some milestones to go (as always) but I cannot begin to describe the relief at getting to this one. HUUUUUUAGE!! To celebrate on our way home from Heathrow Airport, we picked up the newest addition to the Brandon household: Pablo Alan ‘Escobar’ Brandon. I have found another love! He is a lot of work but a true treasure. We got our dog!
I can’t believe we have made it. Making that video little over a year ago I was broken. I did have some hope but really I felt like I was just desperately grasping at straws. There were so many hurdles to overcome, let alone the teeny matter of making nearly half a million pounds! The odds were stacked against us, but it all blooming worked! To be writing these words to you I am already welling up. I am still in shock even a year on. I have my husband back…. I have my life back …. I couldn’t have done it without you!
To my brilliant friends who worked tirelessly to start our campaign, my family for supporting me 100% every single step of the way, Dr Frey + Penn Medicine for managing our America medical rollercoasters, Professor Marks and Bristol Haematology Oncology Unit for managing all our UK medical rollercoasters (Mike loved to be the drama queen :) ) and to each one of you who donated to our desperate plea. We have been shown the utmost generosity, kindness, care and love beyond any expectation and I thank you all from the bottom of my bulging heart.
Going through this experience does scar you a little, death always sits on your shoulder, hanging around taunting heartlessly with your thoughts. When that happens, I take a breath and remember the chance you all gave us and with the power of that positivity I feel determined to enjoy each day. With each week that passes we both feel a little stronger and more relaxed. It is so utterly heart-warming to see Mike start to really live life again. The beauty of normality.
This last few months, after being so isolated and wrapped in cotton wool for so long, we have done so many incredible things. We had our first holiday abroad in over 3 years, we climbed a mountain, we cycled 42km around a lake (nearly killed us :) ), Mike got his first promotion, we’ve had loads of quality friends and family time. Mike went to his first cricket match and first gig, he got on his first bus, had his first round of baby vaccinations, had his first almost normal full blood count, ate his first runny egg and cleared up his first of many dog poos! What a completely all encompassing and joyful 2017!!!
You really do learn to find a renewed appreciation of the smaller things. When he was going through the ‘cytokine storm’ with the treatment last summer, he couldn't lie flat for 6 weeks. Now seeing him sleep comfortably and peacefully each morning and night is the most heartwarming of all.
Miracles do happen … they happen because of people like you,
With love and all the gratitude in the world,
PS All donations through this page go straight to the Above and Beyond Charity helping people like Mike! x
Just wanted to write to say he is doing so so well! Day to day life is an absolute joy, I cannot begin to list the things that we are both so grateful for. We are at hospital less and less and this weeks big news is - Mike has just done his first few half days at work. BOOM!
We are hosting our first fundraising event to say thank you to Mike’s Haematology & Oncology Centre in Bristol. Mike was by no means a ‘perfect patient’ earlier this year: he threw every complication under the sun at them, but they kept him alive and got him to America. We are raising money for the hospital to place in a fund that will help families involved in CAR T-Cell therapy, once it becomes available in the UK in the future.
We also wanted a chance to say thank you to some of you that supported our campaign. After all, you made this happen! All proceeds from the day will be going to Above and Beyond and the Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre, who are kindly hosting the event.
Our ‘Tea Cell Party’ will be on November 19th at Penny Brohn, Pill 1pm-5pm. It will be a fundraising day filled with tea, cake, yoga, massage, clothing, craft and jewellery stalls. No entrance fee, just donate what you can on the day. Bring your friends, start your Christmas shopping early and get pampered!
Details of the day are posted here: https://www.facebook.com/events/532491180275298
Hopefully see some of you soon!
We were so moved by the last campaign that now we want to give something back and we are starting a new campaign to support families having T-Cell therapy in the UK in the future.
Please SHARE and FOLLOW our updates on our new campaign page:
With love and thanks to each and everyone of you who helped give me my husband back, we will be forever grateful.
Kate & Mike
In the UK, the GOSH (children hospital in London) has successfully applied CAR-T cell immunotherapy to cure ALL leukemia completely, they never have motivation to apply the same to the adult patients? Should consult again to your doctor about this: Not only the cost but it is not good for patient to transfer. http://www.gosh.nhs.uk/news/press-releases/2015-press-release-archive/world-first-use-gene-edited-immune-cells-treat-incurable-leukaemia
Not trying to be spooky or anything but you were sitting in the BRI outpatients chairs having an .i.v at the same time as my Mum. I was there with my Dad. This was in 2014. She sadly but peacefully passed away a week after after being very ill. I want to send you hope and that an angel in the form of her is looking down on you with a beautiful smile and with great knowledge you have so much life left in you. Illness will not win, I know it. Lots of love xxx
I can't tell you how happy I am for you both. If I had had the same opportunity a year ago to save my husband I would have probably gone 'all out' as you have Kate, but it wasn't meant to be. Bless you both on your ' onward journey' I wish you all the love and luck in the world. Please keep us posted xx
I've been checking on the progress of Mike's donation page for a few days now and my faith in the human race has been restored watching the amount of people donate to help Mike in his pursuit of this treatment. I'm so proud of each and every one of you. Good luck with your onward journey Kate and Mike, much love to you both xx
Watching Kate's video breaks my heart. I can't imagine going through what her and Mike are. But seeing the love and support of complete strangers tells me that Mike can get through this. Mike and Kate - you have a world of people who wish you all the best.
Looked at this page continuously through out the day absolutley astounded that people have put together what they have spare little or alot what matters because thats 118 k in 12 hours which is amazing ! For sure you lovely couple are going to get the funds you need and more ! X