A Perth mum who has been battling terminal cancer for four years has started a fundraiser to help her buy the drug that is keeping her alive.
Karen High was diagnosed with bowel cancer in August 2017.
She had initially been told she had an ovarian cyst, but further scans revealed the heartbreaking news.
A month later she was told the only option was palliative chemotherapy as the disease had spread to her abdomen. She was also told the prognosis was often to live for less than a year. Karen (55) did eventually go under the knife to remove part of the tumour but some of the cancer remained.
However, Karen discovered a drug called Avastin, which is used to treat a number of cancers.
It is not freely available on the NHS for bowel cancer patients but she was able to procure some privately.
She says the drug has worked wonders and her latest scan results last week revealed everything was remaining stable. She is on her third run of chemo on the NHS which, together with the drug, has given her extra years with husband Alan (60) and sons Sam (19) and Jack (22).
But the cost of Avastin is proving difficult, with each fortnightly session at her home seeing her pay £2000. Karen has now been forced to turn to the public to “buy more time” and has started a crowdfunder.
“I have done remarkably well so far but I am now coming to the end of my options,” Karen, who works for Aviva in Perth, told the Perthshire Advertiser. “I was given less than a year
“I have no doubt I have pushed the boundaries of survival but as my options run out the day is looming when there is the dreaded conversation that says there is nothing more that can be done. It’s a bit of a ticking time bomb.
“Avastin combined with my last chemo option on the NHS is hopefully buying me more time.”
Karen, who is a Girlguiding leader in the city, says her pragmatic attitude and “will to live” have helped her survive for four years, but adds: “You can’t wish cancer away, it doesn’t matter how much positivity you have.”
Describing what it was like to be told she had the disease, she said: “It’s devastation. When I got my diagnosis I spent the first week planning my funeral thinking I was just going to die.
“My son, who was 16 at the time, said ‘it is not fair, I am only 16’. That was the hardest part, telling my kids.
“My target was to see Sam get to his 18th and Jack to his 21st. Now I am focusing on getting Sam to his 21st, another milestone to try and reach. I try not to think to much into the future and what that might bring.
“Alan and I are in it together, in sickness and in health. But how do we plan for any potential future knowing that everything we have worked for and everything we have looked forward to will not happen?”
Lockdown has also proved difficult for Karen.
Many of her family stay in Manchester and they were only able to celebrate Christmas together a few weeks ago.
But she is trying to stay optimistic and said: “There’s a saying that you get up every day and choose your mood and for me, I choose to be thankful that I have woken up one more time for another day.”
Karen has so far raised over £15,000 of her £50,000 target. To learn more go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/karen-high