A LIFE-SAVING operation for cancer patient Laura Baxter is a step closer after more than £6,000 was raised in the first week of The Hunts Post’s appeal.

The 27-year-old is fighting pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP), a rare form of cancer, and needs to raise £25,000 for an operation in Belgium to save her life.

Laura's friends and family have raised around £7,000, and last week The Hunts Post started an appeal to raise the remaining £18,000 to send her to Ghent University Hospital where PMP specialist surgeon Dr Wim Ceelen will operate.

We have received more than 100 calls from readers who have made donations and others who are setting up fundraising events over the next few weeks to ensure Laura gets the £25,000 that is needed.

Last year Laura was diagnosed with PMP, and in June she had a nine-hour operation in Basingstoke Hospital to remove cancerous tissue from her abdomen. The surgeons left small parts of cancer and treated it with heated chemotherapy to kill off the remaining cells without damaging her organs.

But in August doctors discovered the cancer had returned and Laura was given between six and eight months left to live, as the PMP specialist hospitals in Basingstoke and the Christie in Manchester could not operate - the surgery was too advanced. After looking at doctors in Switzerland, Germany, America and Belgium with the help of Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge, Laura found Dr Ceelen who believes he can perform the operation that will save her life.

On Friday (October 26), Laura was allowed back to her home in Black Hill Road, St Ives, but caught an infection in a tube running from her nose to her stomach, resulting in her return to Addenbrooke's.

However, Laura said she was overjoyed with the reaction to her appeal.

Yesterday (Tuesday) she told The Hunts Post: "I hope for nothing else in the world than this operation. People's words of support and help have been amazing, and it's so nice and refreshing to know people care and you aren't alone.

"When I found that the cancer had returned and I researched other places to have an operation, I said I'm not going to die.

"I will get this operation in any way I can. The fact that I have so many people helping me and backing me just makes it feel more real and more reachable. I would like to say a massive thank you to anyone that has done anything to help - a huge thank you that will probably never quite be enough.

"I can't wait to be fit enough to have the op. I have one more lot of chemo to complete before I can have it and then, once the op is done, it's fight, fight, fight to get better and to start building up back to the person I used to be."

Her mother, Jacky Baxter, said Laura was putting on a brave face for her friends and family.

"On Sunday morning, her partner Wayne Cooper, woke up to find Laura crying in her sleep. She won't let me see her in this condition. She tries to shield me from things, which makes it worse because I worry more. Addenbrooke's have been marvellous and updated the doctor at every stage with her tests that has shown that he can operate," Mrs Baxter added.

Mrs Baxter, who works for Jewsons, said that the company had started to raise money as well, with one builder donating £1,000.

As The Hunts Post went to press last night, around £12,000 was still needed to be raised to pay for the operation.