Cancer sufferer talks of remission delight

Heather Parkinson-back at Kirkham Pet Centre.
Heather Parkinson-back at Kirkham Pet Centre.
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Cancer fighter Heather Parkinson has returned to work after being told her condition is now in remission.

Heather, from Leyland, has thanked generous well-wishers who raised £16,000 to help pay for a cancer treatment trial after years of fighting the killer disease.

They included Southlands High School pupils, in Chorley, who raised over £1,000 to help raise funds.

Heather, 28, is now back at her pet shop after being too ill to work for the last two-and-a-half years.

She said: “If it wasn’t for the generosity of Guardian and Lancashire Evening Post readers, I might not be here today or I would be seriously ill by this point.

“I am so happy to be back at work as at one time it seemed like I would never be well enough to go back.”

Heather, of Queensway, Leyland, was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 19 after suffering from a cough which wouldn’t go away.

She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and went into remission – only for the disease to return around two years ago. Chemotherapy treatment failed to tackle the cancer.

Specialists at Manchester’s Christie Hospital felt her best chance was a trial cancer treatment run by London’s Royal Free Hospital.

The aim was to get Heather free of cancer or to dramatically reduce her tumours so she could undergo a stem cell transplant for which her sister Shelley, 30, had already agreed to be a donor.

However, NHS Central Lancashire refused to fund the treatment which would have cost them a one-off £3,000.

So Heather faced paying £16,000 to fund it as a private patient.

After hearing Heather’s plight, kindhearted readers came to her aid and the £16,000 target was reached in weeks – including two anonymous donations of £3,000.

Heather underwent the trial treatment which involved being given a radioactive cancer drug at Royal Free Hospital in July last year.The treatment was successful in drastically shrinking her tumours.

Then in October last year, Heather had intense platinum-based chemotherapy before finally being able to receive the cell stem transplant from sister Shelley.

After the transplant, Heather was extremely poorly as her body had no immunity, leaving her exhausted and susceptible to infections.

However, a PET scan has revealed that Heather now has no signs of cancer in her body and is in remission.

Heather said: “I would like to thank everyone who donated money towards my trial treatment as having it enabled me to have the super-strong chemotherapy, which then allowed me to have the transplant.

“Without one, I could not have had the other and it had a knock-on effect in saving my life. It was wonderful to hear there were no signs of cancer and fingers crossed it stays that way.

“All the treatment and scans I have had have seemed never-ending, but we have got there in the end and I feel great now.”

She added: “I am so glad to be back at work after so long off as this is where I am happy to be doing what I love most.

“When you have your own business it’s no fun being off sick.”