Pauline Gahan - Cancer Treatment
Pauline Gahan - wife, mum, Nanna, sister and friend to many has been given an absolutely devastating prognosis having discovered by chance just a few weeks ago that she has stomach cancer. The cancer has spread to her liver and now also her oesophagus. It's hard to believe that just over a month ago she was enjoying life to the full and visiting her new grandson in Australia for the first time. Now we are told that she probably doesn't have long to live. Mum is only 60 years of age, otherwise fit and healthy and as many of you will know she's the life and soul of any party. She has always run around selflessly and tirelessly for others making sure that everyone is ok. Now we really want to make sure that we can look after Mum when she most needs it.
There is a glimmer of hope. Having undertaken extensive research into alternative cancer treatments to conventional surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy (all of which we are told cannot cure her) we've read a lot about a new, innovative and extremely promising branch of cancer treatment called immunotherapy ( http://www.cancerresearch.org/cancer-immunotherapy). In conjunction with some other groundbreaking, complementary alternative treatments we believe that Mum's life could be saved or, at the very least, extended by several more years if she is able to access these types of treatments.
Most of these new drugs and treatments are not available on the NHS and for the most part they're not available in the UK at all. We have however found a world leading cancer treatment facility in Germany ( http://www.hallwang-clinic.com) that can combines conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy with a wide range of highly promising alternative treatments including immunotherapy which is widely regarded as being the future of cancer treatment. Importantly the clinic believes that they could have some success with Mum and potentially put her into remission. I (Nick) know of someone who went to this same clinic more than 3 years ago when a local hospital in Western Australia gave her a dire terminal prognosis and she is very much alive and well today as a result.
The reason for this fundraising page is that the treatment plan that has been specifically tailored for Mum and her cancer is not cheap. We are already committing a significant amount of funds towards it ourselves but we simply cannot cover the full cost without taking drastic measures like selling the home. If we can get enough people who are willing and able to contribute to Mum's cause we can spread the cost of this treatment amongst many people and give Mum a chance at survival. We are hoping to raise around £60,000. We would appreciate any amount at all that people are able to contribute, no matter how small.
Given how many friends Mum has we'd like to think that we can achieve our goal and get her booked in for a stay at the clinic in Germany as soon as possible. We believe this alone would give Mum such a massive psychological boost and the belief that she can overcome this nasty disease. I'm sure Mum would also appreciate and take strength from any messages of love and support so please feel free to comment and let her know that she's not alone in this fight.
Mum is mentally tough and we know that she will fight tooth and nail with every breath in her body to get herself well again. She has so much to live for. With emotional and some financial support, from all of the many people that know and love her we hope to give Mum the tools to enable her to beat cancer and to live and long and cancer-free life.
To this day none of that cancer has returned and only the liver tumours remain. Up until around 3 weeks ago Mum was doing really great and living a very good quality of life. About 3 weeks ago however she started to show signs of jaundice - yellowish pigment to the skin and whites of the eyes caused by the build up of a compound called bilirubin which indicates a liver problem. Over the course of the following 10 days they did a CT scan, MRI scan and lots of blood tests but were unable to identify the problem. Eventually they put her on an antibiotic and about 24 hours later although her liver function test results were still dangerously high (bilirubin level of 70) they had come down by nearly half. So they discharged her and we were told it was almost certainly an infection.
A few days later the symptoms worsened again and so we took her to the Christie this time. Reasonably quickly they told us that Mum's bile ducts were blocked. After a few more tests and scans over the next couple of days they said they would manage her symptoms but there was nothing that could be done for her. They said Mum was in the very final stage of life and indicated that most likely she was down to just a few days left. As you can imagine this news was absolutely devastating to Mum and to us however having been in this situation before and come through it we were determined to get a second opinion.
In the meantime we had already been trying to collect all of Mum's blood test results, scans, reports and sent them off to her consultant in Germany. He indicated that there were potentially a few options available. He told us to get Mum to Germany asap within the next 24 hours and that it was critical.
At first they weren't going to discharge Mum from the Christie because they said that they had decided at the last minute to do an ultrasound but in the end they agreed not to stop Mum travelling to Germany. They did complete the ultrasound prior to discharge however and the sonographer said he saw no reason why Mum wouldn't be a candidate for having stents fitted!
Having already made all of the arrangements to go to Germany we managed to get Mum there. Upon arrival they told us that Mum was in an extremely critical condition and that although there were treatment options available the condition she was in meant that it would be touch and go.
Mum has now had an external stent fitted whereby they bypass the blockage in the bile ducts and over the next few days we hope to see her liver function return to normal and for her to be out of any immediate danger. It is only a temporary fix however. To address the problem long term the underlying cause needs to be treated. If the tumours in Mum's liver can be shrunk then the pressure on the bile ducts will ease and they will become unblocked. The external stent can then be removed. Mum can return home and to a decent quality of life and the focus can return to ongoing cancer treatment and trying to finish off the tumours in the liver.
Mum is booked in for a treatment called transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE) at a hospital in Frankfurt next week. This is where they inject chemotherapy drugs directly into the tumours and 'seal' the chemo inside by blocking the tumours' blood supply. She will need 2-3 cycles of this over the next couple of months. We've heard many success stories from people who have had this procedure done and seen their liver tumours shrink by huge amounts within days so we're hopeful it can put Mum right back on track and give us time to find the right treatment. It may even be possible that surgery becomes an option after the TACE and any remaining cancer can be completely removed.
Over the last week or so we've had so many donations from people it's been absolutely fantastic and we're so grateful it has helped to get us this far. It has quite literally saved Mum's life (again!). We do need more though. We are about €5,000 short of being able to cover the current stay in Germany when we include the TACE procedure in Frankfurt next week. The daily in-patient fees at the clinic are €1,000 per day and that's without any treatments. As you may already know Mum and Dad have sold their home, cashed in their retirement pension and spent every last bit of it and much more on this treatment. Friends and family have been amazing and also donated lots of money.
Mum is currently in quite a bit of discomfort. She can't walk, she has a catheter in, an external stent bypassing her bile ducts and is generally in a very bad way. As mentioned earlier we expect her symptoms to ease over the coming days and hopefully significantly so. The only long term solution though is to shrink the tumours and hopefully we can get Mum in for that procedure next week.
Thank you for reading this update and if you could please share or chip in we would be eternally greatful.
We're celebrating this festive period more than ever before because according to the doctors Mum wasn't meant to be here to enjoy it with us. Just 6 months ago the chances of us all having Christmas together would have been dismissed as impossible. Not only is she still with us but she's doing amazingly well and hopefully 2017 can be the year when she gets the all clear.
This time of year always brings about reflection on the year that has been. Our thoughts turn to all those we have met on our journey, many of whom became friends, who have been less fortunate than Mum with their struggle against cancer as well as those who continue to fight.
Mum and all the Gahan family would like to say a massive thank you to all those people who have supported us and enabled us to share this special Christmas together. It is only through the generosity of so many of you that this has been possible.
Best wishes and lots of love
At the end of September we ran a sweepstake asking people to guess the level of Mum’s tumour markers and we were really pleased to announce that they had decreased to 491 (from an initial level of over 89,000 on 1st July)! Since then the two times that she has had her markers tested they have INCREASED and at last count they were measured at 1,873.
The reason for this is really simple. Because of a lack of funds we’ve had to reduce the amount of a vital treatment by two thirds and this directly coincides with the increase in cancerous activity. I have a feeling that if we had been able to continue with the original treatment plan Mum would have been cancer-free right now and if not almost certainly by Christmas.
It’s absolutely devastating to be taking backward steps at this final stage when Mum was so unbelievably close to beating cancer and proving that there is no such thing as ‘incurable’ cancer. It’s such a horrible situation to be in and we wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Knowing that my Mum’s life comes down to money is absolutely sickening. It’s amazing to think that if we won the lottery we would feel 100% confident, absolutely certain, that Mum would be cancer free within a short space of time. She’s already shown that she responds astoundingly well to the treatment, better than anyone could have predicted, but we just can’t maintain it without more money.
If you’re able to make a contribution to help fund Mum’s next round of treatment we’d be so grateful. We’re hoping that we can get some more funds together for a visit next week and we’d absolutely love to go back up to the full dose of this particular immunotherapy drug but it’s going to take a significant amount of money. The drug in question costs 17,000 Euros for one injection! It may be the round of treatment that finishes the cancer off for good!
Thank you all
Hi I am q 40 year old who has had all of my food pipe removed and my stomach pulled up this was due to sepsis after a c section I was on a life support machine I've had on going operations and still on going I'm sorry to hear your sad news but when I faced this there was many things I could not do but I can now like I did not eat for 9 months but something inside makes you strong your family and friends I wish you the best of luck x
Hope you manage to get some more funding soon and those tumours disperse☺
Hope you achieve it...God Bless you all...lovely family...xx
Hi Pauline!! It's Hayley here, we met at the Hallwang Clinic a couple of weeks ago!! I've private messaged you via Facebook, keep in touch, Hayley xxx
Thank you all for your help every little helps !! Xxx