A mum suffering terminal bowel cancer has pleaded for help in funding life-prolonging treatment so she can make it through the coronavirus pandemic and see her youngest son start secondary school.
Lorna Caley-Liddle, 40, was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in July 2018 and says that “b*****d COVID-19” has destroyed her chances of being accepted on to a medical trial to slow the cancer and prolong her life.
The mum-of-two from Sutton, Surrey, told Yahoo News UK: “I’ve managed to outstay my original welcome for which I am truly and utterly grateful. I feel very lucky to have made it this far.
“The treatments I have endured have been, at times, extremely rough to take. But as any cancer patient will tell you – while it’s working it’s all worth it.”
Caley-Liddle’s only thought is for her two sons and to spend as much time as possible with them. She has researched treatments that could help her but many are overseas and cost many thousands of pounds.
With current travel restrictions, Caley-Liddle, who works as a customer service manager, would be unable to take part even if she had the money.
She said: “I count milestones and aim for goals continuously – the next birthday, the next event – and I’m always juggling in my mind whether or not I think I will make it.
“I am not unrealistic, I know I have terminal cancer, but I want to stay around for as long as possible for my boys.
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“I want them to know their mum did everything she could to be with them.
“At Christmas we hoped we may have some time to make memories and start a trial to give me longer.
“Things were looking hopeful, but then coronavirus happened.”
Caley-Liddle is hoping to start another course of chemotherapy in the next few weeks to extend her life so she can take part in a trial or access medication specifically for containing her type of cancer when she can travel.
For this she will need tens of thousands of pounds.
She said: “Unfortunately the current chemo is no longer doing its job.
“I always knew I would get to this point and I always knew I would then have some further tough decisions to make.
“The problem is although I have managed to save some money I could never have predicted the other b*****d C word ‘COVID-19’ joining the party and ruining any chance I stood of becoming involved in a medical trial. I really do need help.
“Even if I stay indoors completely and avoid catching or dying from COVID-19, it looks like it might indirectly get me anyway by taking away any further options I may have had.”
Caley-Liddle has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money so she can explore options for life-prolonging treatment once coronavirus-related movement restrictions are eased.
She told Yahoo News UK: “This fundraising will hopefully afford me the option and chance to find alternative treatments and other private routes for treatment.”
If Caley-Liddle does not make it through the pandemic she has said the money raised will be split between donations to cancer charities such as the Royal Marsden Hospital or another patient in a similar situation, and for her sons’ future.
Caley-Liddle, 40, and husband Martin, 49, will be celebrating son Charlie’s 14th birthday on 25 April, and her 41st birthday a few weeks later.
She said: “I am so grateful to be here and to be planning celebrations with my family. The next goal is to make it to September to see my younger son Harry start secondary school.”
Since creating her campaign a week ago Caley-Liddle has received overwhelming support from friends, family and strangers alike and she has achieved £31,000 of her £40,000 target.
She said: “I know the timing is abysmal, that everyone is struggling with coronavirus and its impact in various ways. But every penny is so appreciated. And if people are unable to donate I would just ask that they might take a couple of minutes to share my story.
“I had to self-isolate very early on and my family took the decision to isolate with me. I am doing absolutely everything I can just to get through this.
“I have been overwhelmed by how kind people have been since the crisis started. From shopping for us all to donating to my page, people’s kindness has left me truly, truly grateful for their kindness.”
But one thing Caley-Liddle cannot accept is the small minority of people breaching lockdown rules.
She said: “People in my position are doing anything they possibly can just to stay alive. We have shut ourselves away and take all precautions for everything. But then people go to parties or thoughtlessly visit friends.
“It’s just selfish. They think that because they are not vulnerable it doesn’t matter, but what about the old lady they pass, the vulnerable neighbour who has to visit the shops? It’s frustrating to hear about people not taking these rules seriously.
“And when you hear of deaths, it’s as if ‘underlying health conditions’ makes it less bad somehow.
“We’re vulnerable, or disabled, so may be more at risk. It doesn’t mean that somehow the death of someone with underlying health issues matters less.
“The language surrounding these issues can be very dangerous.”
To donate to Caley-Liddle’s cause, click here.