A 27-YEAR-OLD woman needs to raise more than £25,000 for a life-saving operation – or has just six months to live.
Laura Baxter, of Blackstone Way, St Ives, was last year diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) – an extremely rare form of cancer that affects between one and two million people in the world a year.
In June, she had an operation to remove the cancerous tissue, but two months later Miss Baxter was told that the cancer had started to grow again.
She was given six to eight months to live.
Determined not to give up hope, Laura found a doctor in Belgium who believes he can save her life. But the operation will cost £25,000 while additional money will also be needed to cover flights.
So far, Laura along with her friends and family have gathered about £7,000 towards the cost of the operation but they need help to find the remaining money.
“The operation in Belgium is with the hope of removing all or controlling [the cancer],” Laura told The Hunts Post from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. “I don’t know which it will be yet, but doing nothing ... it will kill me.
“Doctors in Belgium are confident they can do a good job hopefully to remove it. I’m guessing this is my last chance.”
She added: “It’s either that or admit defeat. What would other people do at my age and in my situation? I’m not ready to just give up.”
PMP is a cancer of the appendix. It usually starts as a small growth that breaks through the appendix wall and spreads tumour cells to the lining of the abdominal cavity. It produces a mucus, which contains the cancer cells that spread to other abdominal organs such as the intestines, liver and pancreas.
In June, Laura had a nine-hour operation at Basingstoke Hospital – one of two PMP specialist centres in the UK – to remove her affected organs, including parts of her small intestine.
Because of the length of surgery – and in the hope of not damaging more of Laura’s liver and small intestine – the surgeon left small bits of cancerous tissue. Doctors tried kill the remaining cancerous cells through heated chemotherapy treatment.
But in August, Laura, who works for Titleist in St Ives, was told the cancer had started to grow again in her bowel and was given six to eight months to live by doctors at Addenbrooke’s.
Laura refused to accept the diagnosis and looked for doctors overseas who would be able to operate.
“When the cancer started growing back where they left it on the bowel and liver, I was told there was not going to be a second operation,” she said. “Basingstoke and the Christie in Manchester – the other PMP specialist hospital – don’t feel they can operate because of where the cancer is. They don’t have the expertise.”
After searching for doctors in Switzerland, Germany and America, Laura found Prof Dr Wim Ceelen from Gent University Hospital. He has carried out more than 450 of the operations that Laura needs.
Her mother Jacky Baxter said: “We have to raise the money for her.
“Some days I wake up and think it’s a dream and then I realise it’s actually happening. It’s absolutely devastating for it to happen to someone so young. There are times when Laura seems to be coping, then the next moment she is very angry, and cries. She asks ‘why is it happening to me? What have I done to deserve this?’
“She’s a nice girl and hasn’t done anything, so it’s very hard.”
Mrs Baxter added: “The doctors at Addenbrooke’s have said they don’t have the knowledge and they say that if they operate, Laura will die on the table. But the doctor in Belgium says they have done the operation before and it will be successful.
“The NHS won’t pay for the operation because Addenbrooke’s says [the cancer is] terminal, but they have said they will reimburse her part of the money if she survives. That money would then be given to the Pseudomyxoma Survivors charity to put the money into research to stop this from happening to anyone else.”
If Miss Baxter can raise the money, then she can have the operation within two weeks and will spend a month in hospital in Gent.
INFORMATION: If you would like to help Laura Baxter, contact The Hunts Post on 01480 443472.