Money is flooding in to help a young woman battling cancer who was left devastated after health chiefs refused to fund a trial treatment which could be her only hope.
Heather Parkinson, 27, of Queensway, Leyland, who has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, says she and her family cannot believe the generosity of strangers after bosses at NHS Central Lancashire snubbed her and a bank account has now been set up to raise the cash needed for the vital treatment.
Heather’s sister Shelley Watson today said: “It brings tears to my eyes that people who have never met Heather are prepared to give her money so she can have this treatment.
“It is really heartwarming and restores your faith in human nature. It is wonderful that complete strangers are willing to give up their money for someone they don’t even know and we are so grateful.
“Now we have the bank account in place, we hope we reach the target quickly so Heather can have this treatment as soon as possible.”
Heather was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 19 and after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she was cancer-free for a number of years.
But now, the disease has returned and this time, chemotherapy has failed to work and she cannot have radiotherapy again as it would damage her vital organs.
Heather, who owns a pet shop in Kirkham which her retired mother is currently running, desperately needs a cell stem transplant and her sister Shelley Watson, 30, has agreed to be her donor.
But before Heather can have the transplant, she needs to be cancer free or at least have her tumours shrunk and her only chance is a trial cancer treatment being run at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
As the drug is at trial stage, it is classed as “compassionate treatment” and medics from Manchester’s Christie Hospital and the London’s Royal Free appealed for Heather’s primary care trust to fork out a one-off payment of £3,000 to fund the treatment.
But after keeping Heather in limbo for 13 weeks while they made a decision, health chiefs at NHS Central Lancashire turned Heather down leaving her and her family heartbroken.
The PCT cited their reason for refusal as being because the drug was not yet “licensed” and said they did not fund clinical trials.
But other PCTs around the country have funded the £3,000 treatment and the Royal Free treats one patient a week with the trial drug. The trial, called CD25, is targeted radiotherapy which involves the patient being given a radioactive drug which attacks the cancer without harming healthy cells.
After being given the radioactive drug, the patient has to be put in isolation in a lead-lined room for a week.
If Heather funds the trial treatment privately, the cost jumps from a cost of just £3,000 to £16,000.
Since the Evening Post highlighted Heather’s plight, she has been inundated with offers of cash which prompted her sister Shelley to set up a special bank account called “Helping Heather”.
Heather, who visits St Catherine’s Hospice once a week as a day care patient, said: “I cannot believe how kind people are being.
“We have set up a Facebook group called ‘Heather’s Lymphoma Treatment” and in less than 48 hours, more than 300 people have joined it and we keep getting messages from people wanting to pledge cash.
“I cannot thank everyone enough. Their support means so much.”
If you would like to donate to Heather’s treatment fund, send a cheque made payable to “Helping Heather” to: Kirkham Pet Centre, 7, Market Square, Kirkham, Preston, PR4 2SD.