Weʼve raised £1,360 to help towards Lenalidomide cancer treatment for my dear friend Melissa.
- Funded on Sunday, 26th August 2018
Crowdfunding is a new type of fundraising where you can raise funds for your own personal cause, even if you're not a registered charity.
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Melissa is a 38 year old mum of two, a wife, an arts centre manager, a daughter, a sister, an auntie, and my friend. She is one of the most imaginative, creative, courageous and awe inspiring women I know. She is also very a tough cookie and has been fighting cancer for twenty months.
With the help of family and friends, I would like to raise some funds to help continue paying towards Melissa’s treatment.
This is where you come in!
My hair has been waist length or longer for nearly thirty years, and in support of my friend I will be cutting 70cms off of my hair on May 25th.
Please, please, please sponsor me and donate if you are able, and please share this with as many people as you can.
Your support will be greatly appreciated.
I will be donating my hair to the Little Princess Trust.
Here's Melissa’s story so far.
In September 2016 Melissa took herself to the GP as her face was swelling inexplicably; an X-ray and CT scan later and Lymphoma was diagnosed at Southampton University Hospital. A 12cm mass in her chest on the mediastinum was restricting blood flow through the superior vena cava which was causing the swelling and ultimately attempting to suffocate her. A biopsy discovered that this was no ordinary type of Lymphoma, which is usually labelled Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin, but an extremely rare mixture of the two known as Grey Zone.
Chemotherapy began, hair was shed, many hours were spent connected to drips, sat in waiting rooms and visiting various consultants and health professionals. Six cycles later the tumour was shrinking and Radiotherapy was scheduled to get rid of the rest of the mass. In January 2017 Melissa was fitted for a Radiotherapy shell to keep her clamped in place during the sessions, was tattooed with little black dots so that the lasers lined up each time. The day of the first session arrived in February 2017 and a scan ahead of the treatment revealed that the mass had grown and Radiotherapy was halted.
Next came more Chemotherapy; a harsher regime that was administered as an inpatient over 3-4 days in hospital. Although Melissa had tolerated the original Chemotherapy well, these three cycles made her feel very poorly. The intention of the treatment was to get her into remission so that an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant could be carried out. Stem Cells were painstakingly harvested in May 2017 over several daily visits to hospital; remission was never reached following the second regime of chemo, it was just temporarily stabilising the tumour and so Radiotherapy was back on the agenda.
Twenty fractions of Radiotherapy were given Mon-Fri through mid June/mid July 2017. Many more hours sat in waiting rooms, laid on treatment tables, hoping for the best.
The hope was that Radiotherapy would put Melissa in a position to be given a Bone Marrow Transplant. A 10/10 match was found and the procedure scheduled for the end of October 2017. Again, the tumour had only been stabilised temporarily during Radiotherapy; after treatment had finished a PET scan exposed that this aggressive disease had begun to grow again and was spreading south to the pancreas and kidneys. Bone Marrow Transplant shelved; Clinical Trials recommended.
The first Clinical Trial was halted on the day Melissa was due to start screening due to neurological problems in some of the trial's participants. A second Clinical Trial was found in Oxford at The Churchill Hospital and the screening process for that began November 2017.
Towards the end of November Melissa was noticing the return of the swollen face that prompted her presentation to the GP at the beginning of the story; another scan was carried out and a couple of days later a call was made for her to urgently attend hospital. She was told that the mass was pressing on the valve where blood enters the heart and their concern was that it could stop working at any time. Southampton were unable to offer any further treatment and the Clinical Trial in Oxford was the only viable option left. She was advised to give up work and prioritise the time she had left. Although she was given the option to know how long they thought she had left, Melissa opted not to know.
At the beginning of December, after feeling mostly well throughout the previous fifteen months other than treatment-related malaise, Melissa was admitted to hospital after a couple of episodes of passing out, symptomatic of her condition and an indication that the doctors' prognosis was accurate. The Clinical Trial screening was fast tracked and an ambulance ride to Oxford later, all hopes for recovery were being pinned on the trial Immunotherapy drugs. One of the screening factors is Haemoglobin levels and unfortunately Melissa was too anaemic to join the trial. The team at Oxford were frustrated but had to refer her back to Southampton defeated. After 10 nights in hospital, IV infusions of fluids, constant heart monitoring and steroids, the tumour had seemed to stabilise and the episodes had stopped. She had a frank conversation with one of the doctors who didn't expect her to make Christmas prior to her admission.
In an attempt to continue stabilising the tumour, more Chemotherapy was prescribed and the first cycle was given 20 December. Christmas was spent at home and was all the more special given that she wasn't expected to finish opening her advent calendar.
2018 arrived along with an optimistic Melissa who had her second round of Chemo in the New Year. An X-ray ahead of this week's scheduled third cycle shows that it seems to be just buying time and not dealing with shrinking and destroying the tumour.
After the initial 2 cycles of Immunotherapy drug Pembrolizumab, Melissa’s consultant was “cautiously optimistic” that things were going in the right direction. However, after the third cycle, the X-ray showed that the mass in her chest had got bigger and a subsequent CT scan confirmed further progression to her abdomen. She continued with a 4th cycle in any case as this was the plan and was what the incredible fund raising her friends and family had afforded. But, alas, this wonder drug did not seem to be doing wonders for Melissa.
Melissa received more radiotherapy to the new area in her chest and to her abdomen to treat the organs which also have signs of lymphoma: pancreas, liver, adrenal glands, kidneys, stomach and spleen. She has now begun a course of a drug called Lenalidomide (a cousin of thalidomide) which in theory can also harness the power of her own immune system to seek out and kill the cancer cells... fingers crossed.
The latest battle may be a victory for the big C but the war isn’t over
For Melissa there is no option other than to beat this disease and keep being a mummy to her six year old daughter and three year old son for many years to come. Thank you for taking the time to read this page and if you can donate or share, anything you can do to support is greatly appreciated.
Thank you x
Updates appear here
Nina Bradley started crowdfunding
Leave a message of support
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 7, 2018
With love x
Lisa Fernandez Adams
May 31, 2018
Nina, you’ve had the longest hair for as long as I’ve known you! (And that is 24 years!!!) So glad Mica’s charity hair cut inspired you, & in turn your very kind deed will inspire others I’m sure! xx
May 26, 2018
You are amazing Nina! Lots of love for this! You are a beautiful person xxx
May 26, 2018
Well done! Good luck to your friend, can’t waitto see the new hairdo as well!
May 25, 2018
Nina, you’re a wonderful person. Sending love and good luck with the chop xxx
May 25, 2018
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