Mum of four 'fighting for life' refused funding for treatment

A terminally ill mum felt like her life didn't matter after she was refused funding for potentially life-extending treatment - but her faith in humanity was restored by the generosity of her "incredible" community.

Michelle Butterworth, 48, from Wallasey, was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma, a tumour in the adrenal gland, in 2017. She had surgery to remove the tumour at the Royal Liverpool Hospital - but three years later, after regular testing, she was told that the cancer had returned, and had spread to her right lung.

In an effort to save her life, she underwent a gruelling operation to remove part of her lung. But in 2022 the cancer returned once again, and by January 2023 it had spread to her liver, both lungs, and lymph nodes - and had become incurable. One year later, she was given the tragic news that, without treatment, she would have only months left to live.

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The mum of four applied for peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT), a form of radiotherapy which targets the cancer from inside the body, which she hoped would extend her life by up to 12 years - but her request was denied.

All hope seemed lost for the mum of four, until family and friends banded together to form Team Chell Bell, a small but determined group of volunteers raising money to pay for her PRRT privately. So far the group, with the help of the Wallasey community, have raised more than £60,000.

Her childhood friend Deb Blair, 42, of Team Chell Bell, said: "The community has totally come together for her. It's been absolutely amazing to see what the people of Wallasey have done. Merseyside has gone way above and beyond what Michelle and the whole family were expecting. In just over 14 weeks, this community has managed to raise over "66K so far.

"Without the story in the ECHO people wouldn't have known she was going through it, and people have come from far around to fundraise for her. As a community we have never seen anything like it. It shows that, with support, we can do incredible things."

Michelle is due to start PRRT in August after finishing a round of chemotherapy at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. A recent scan revealed the cancer in her lymph nodes had reduced - meaning she was able to fulfil her dreams of jetting off to Greece for a sun-soaked wedding to her fiancé, Rob Morton.

Deb said: "She never thought she was going to get there. But I think she has gained strength from what everybody has done. It has given her the will to fight. It's unbelieve. I think the love, support, and good wishes of everybody around can do so much for somebody going through what she has been through.

"When you're fighting for your life and you are refused funding, you feel like your life doesn't matter. But the fact that everybody has come together has given her the will to fight on. When she saw the love and support from everyone, she knew nobody was giving up on her."

Team Chell Bell is still working hard on Michelle's behalf, and has organised another charity event in the form of a music night with 13 DJs at the Shakespeare Pub in Williamson Square at 6pm on July 13.

Deb added: "In the first few weeks we were struggling and we thought it was going to be an impossible battle. But slowly it gained. Nobody here has got much, but everyone has come together to do incredible things in such a short time.

"Cancer can happen to anyone. It could be anybody facing that battle. All you need is support."