Family launch 'last chance' appeal to fundraise for lifesaving treatment for Downham Market woman Heather Bellamy
Relatives of a Downham woman who has a rare type of cancer are hoping to raise £250,000 for a “last chance” to get her the treatment she needs.
Those close to Heather Bellamy, who has acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), say the funds will allow her to travel to America, which is the only country that currently offers this treatment.
Heather, who turned 48 last week and who has spent most of her life working as a nurse, has received two stem cell transplants in the past but these did not work, and, besides chemotherapy which can slow down the spread of the aggressive cancer, there is no further treatment available to her in this country.
Her dad John Bellamy said: “Of course this is heartbreaking news for the family and we are told by the specialist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital that the cost is approximately £250,000, unfortunately that sum of money at this point is beyond our means.”
He added: “We have started to crowdfund but it will take a long time to put together that sort of money.”
The funds would mean Heather could travel overseas to America, where an advanced medicine called Idhifa is available, which is believed to have a high success rate in treating relapsed/refractory late stage acute myeloid leukaemia in patients with an IDH2 mutation.
John said Heather was originally diagnosed four years ago, but recently it has mutated.
He added the family currently feels “desolate” about the situation.
In the UK, John said the drug is currently undergoing trials, but only for people aged 60 and over.
“By then it will be too late for our daughter and her four children,” John added.
“Like many people, we never thought it would ever happen to us.”
The family, including Heather’s children – Elizabeth, 24, Alice, 22, Alfie,16, and Sam, 14 – are hoping to raise as much money as they can as quickly as possible in a bid to get Heather this treatment soon.
John said: “To put it in to perspective, it is just £1 from 250,000 people to fund her treatment, approximately one third of the population of Norfolk where she lives.”
Heather trained, qualified and worked as a nurse at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and, up until four years ago when she was diagnosed with leukaemia, she was a practice nurse at a surgery in Downham.
A GoFundMe appeal called ‘Auntie Heather’s Last Chance’ has been launched, which has so far gathered more than £4,000 towards the total goal of £250,000.
In a post on the site, relatives of Heather said: “We need to raise this money as quickly as possible as we really are on a time limit as to how long my auntie can hold on for.
“She has a whole family who love her and want to do everything they can for her.
“She has four children who can’t afford to lose their mum. Please, anything you can spare to help out my auntie will be hugely, hugely appreciated!”
According to the NHS website, AML is a rare type of cancer, with around 2,600 people are diagnosed with it each year in the UK.
The family are planning some fundraising events for Heather in the coming weeks.
You can support their online fundraising by donating via www.gofundme.com/auntie-heather039s-last-chance.