I am a 42 year old who has fought cancer for too much of my adult life. Starting in my late teens and later in my early twenties, I undertook radiotherapy and chemo to beat Hodgkins Lymphoma before learning to living life to its fullest. Only a few months after my 40th birthday, I received the devastating diagnosis of a rare salivary gland cancer, which affects a tiny percentage of the population. I had extensive but successful surgery to remove the tumour and until recently, was considered in remission with no evidence of disease. Challenging facial paralysis and deafness on one side of my head, I picked up the pieces and reassembled a happy and productive life again.
Despite the best efforts of my wonderful and supportive medical team, my life has once more been turned upside down, and the cancer has reappeared in an extremely unusual and unpredictable way. I now have metastasis to soft tissues, and while I appear otherwise bafflingly fit and healthy today, it leaves us with few options on how to move forward for the future.
I am continuing to fight this as hard as I can. With virtually no precedence to follow, there is no ‘gold standard’ treatment to try, and my best hope is to do a full genomic profile on the tumour and look for protein biomarkers with the hope of finding treatment options. Worldwide, this type of approach helps people like me already, but it is currently unfunded by the NHS for cancers like mine. The NHS are offering me palliative treatment, which is somewhat frustrating as there could be many more options available. My family and friends have been quick to offer hope and assistance and we want to raise the funds to pursue this, allowing me to continue spending valuable time with them for as long as possible and maximise my chances of survival. We hope the test gives options for immunotherapy I need to fight this cancer head on.
Immunotherapy is an exciting and promising approach to cancer and the more positive cases are documented, the more it will be recognised and be made available to cancer sufferers who do not fit textbook profiles. Please help me to be one of those people who turn this disease around.
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- Jacqueline Harper
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- MR RUAIRIDH MACKENZIE