In September 2016, we received the devastating news that Jessica Lenihan, one of our closest friends, and one of the kindest, most caring and intelligent people you could wish to meet, was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma.
The symptoms of this type of cancer are incredibly difficult to spot, and when Jess was diagnosed on the week of her 26th birthday, it was already too late for surgery. The cancer has spread to her liver, lungs and lymph nodes and is therefore inoperable and incurable.
Chemotherapy is being used to slow the spread of the cancer, but sadly for this type of cancer, it can only control the disease for an average of 11 months. Jess has now had seven months of chemotherapy and time is incredibly precious in the search for plan B.
However, we have not given up hope and that’s why we are asking for your help.
Jess’s best chance is immunotherapy, a treatment which harnesses the body’s immune system to fight its own cancer. This has been used in the US to extend the life of a cholangiocarcinoma patient, who has now survived the disease for 6 years and counting. It has shown such success in treating other types of cancer that it is now routinely available on the NHS for many patients. But - although this treatment offers a chance to slow the growth of Jess’s cancer considerably or, in the best circumstances, put it into remission entirely - immunotherapy is not currently available on the NHS for this type of cancer. And it is extremely expensive. To privately fund a course is expected to cost in excess of £100,000. No one expects to save for a situation like this.
Jess grew up in Derbyshire and after working incredibly hard to graduate from both Durham and Oxford with degrees in the arts, she was working in a major gallery in London. Like any young adult, she had a bright future ahead of her. But sadly Jess has had to give up her dream job to try and fight this.
It is unbelievably hard to see one of your best friends going through this. Someone who has always been there for you and for so many others. Someone you imagined growing up and growing old with, standing beside at her wedding, drinking tea with while you watched her children play, having dinner parties with when you’re older - someone who you can’t really imagine life without. And it’s so difficult to feel there is little you can do to help, which is why we’ve made this page.
Any support you can give to help Jess and ensure her the best possible future will be appreciated more than you can know. *
*If any funds can’t be used to help Jess, they will be re-donated to AMMF
(The UK’s only cholangiocarcinoma charity), the Paintings in Hospitals
charity, and the fundraising pages of others with devastating medical conditions in need of help.Please feel free to share this page as widely as possible, not only to help Jess but to raise awareness about cholangiocarcinoma and the importance of immunotherapy as a treatment in the fight against cancer.