Dad needs £110,000 for drugs to zap eight tumours in his fiancée’s brain, so she can live to see one son start school and one blossom as a toddler

·6-min read

A dad is desperate to raise £110,000 for a year’s supply of cancer-fighting drugs to zap eight tumours in his fiancée’s brain, so the mum can live to see her eldest son start school and her youngest boy blossom as a toddler.

Mum-of-two Lorraine Hartley, 39, first realised something was wrong during a holiday in Lanzarote in November 2019 and twisted to lift her son but felt her back “crack.”

At first, she thought she had pulled something, but when the pain persisted after she fell pregnant in December 2019, she visited the GP “several times” – with her partner David Topping, 35, even calling an ambulance “a few times”- but doctors put it down to the strain of being pregnant and were not overly concerned.

David is now raising money to buy his wife, Lorraine, vital time with their children (Collect/PA Real Life).
David is now raising money to buy his wife, Lorraine, vital time with their children (Collect/PA Real Life).

Everything changed at the end of April 2020, when a midwife feared something abnormal was happening and suggested sales manager Lorraine, of Halling, Kent, had a scan – reassuring her that it would not harm her pregnancy.

To their horror, investigations revealed she had stage four lung cancer, which had spread to other parts of her body, according to Dave, an operations manager, who said: “We were told she had two years to live, when I wanted her to have another 50 years.

“Lorraine didn’t want to know. It wasn’t exactly denial, but life was easier if she pretended it wasn’t happening.”

Lorraine pictured with her youngest son, Henry (Collect/PA Real Life).
Lorraine pictured with her youngest son, Henry (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “The only vague bit of good news we got was that the type of cancer she had was treatable using targeted drug therapy.”

Then 26 weeks pregnant, Lorraine, who is a non-smoker, was advised to have a C-section at 30 weeks on May 6, 2020, by which point her baby would be strong enough to survive and enabling her to start treatment.

To add to her problems, she had a mild case of Covid-19 and was put on an isolation ward for five days until she recovered.

Lorraine gave birth to Henry at 30 weeks pregnant (Collect/PA Real Life).
Lorraine gave birth to Henry at 30 weeks pregnant (Collect/PA Real Life).

And at 30 weeks, Henry, now one, was born weighing just 3.3lb (1.5kg). He needed help breathing on and off and had high dependency neo-natal care for the next 10 weeks, as his lungs were underdeveloped.

But when he came home, he no longer needed oxygen and was perfectly healthy – just requiring food, iron and vitamin supplements.

Meanwhile, Lorraine, also mum to Arthur, three, started her targeted treatment – a daily beta blocker, to prevent proteins bonding with the cells and replicating, so the cancer cannot grow, meaning eventually the cells that are there die.

Lorraine, pictured here with her two children, Arthur and Henry, was diagnosed with lung cancer at 26 weeks pregnant (Collect/PA Real Life).
Lorraine, pictured here with her two children, Arthur and Henry, was diagnosed with lung cancer at 26 weeks pregnant (Collect/PA Real Life).

Dave said: “It’s really effective but, combined with the other drugs Lorraine has, the side effects are very unpleasant – causing things like nosebleeds and soft finger and toenails.”

Looking back to the start of Lorraine’s problems, Dave still finds it hard to fathom all that has happened.

He said: “When the doctors realised it was cancer back in April 2020, they didn’t initially know where it had originated from.”

A scan in October 2021 revealed Lorraine had eight tumours in her brain (Collect/PA Real Life).
A scan in October 2021 revealed Lorraine had eight tumours in her brain (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “They checked her breasts, which were fine and eventually decided it was lung cancer that had spread into the bones.

“It had probably gone through the back of the lungs into the spine and on the ribcage, shoulder blades and with some deposits around her lymph nodes.

“It was terrible. She was pregnant and we found out she had stage four, nearly stage five cancer.”

Henry was born 10 weeks early (Collect/PA Real Life).
Henry was born 10 weeks early (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “I still can’t get my head around it all today.”

But 18 months into her treatment, Dave and Lorraine even dared to hope she could beat the deadly disease.

Dave said: “The lesions in the bones and lungs had been all but reduced to scar tissue and her bones had fused into position, giving her some new stability. We were becoming hopeful of beating it.”

David is raising money so Lorraine, pictured here with her son Arthur, can watch her sons grow up (Collect/PA Real Life).
David is raising money so Lorraine, pictured here with her son Arthur, can watch her sons grow up (Collect/PA Real Life).

Sadly, the good news that Lorraine’s targeted treatment had blitzed her tumours was followed by the shocking revelation in October 2021 that she had a further eight cancerous tumours in her brain.

“The targeted drug therapy that was very effective in the body unfortunately does not pass into the brain very well and is unable to treat the tumours present there,” said Dave, who has had to stop working for large chunks of time to care for their children during Lorraine’s illness.

“She’s basically a very ill person. She’s been fragile for a long time.”

Henry was born in May 2020 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Henry was born in May 2020 (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “The position of some of her tumours is affecting her motor skills, meaning she is limping, can only just use the stairs and now sometimes uses a wheelchair.

“Her vision is blurred, and she has problems with her short-term memory.”

Desperate to live for long enough to see her oldest boy start school and watch her youngest boy meet more milestones, the couple – who have been together for eight years and got engaged four years ago – have launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for further medication.

Lorraine, pictured here pregnant with her eldest son Arthur, is fundraising for treatment so she can make memories with her children (Collect/PA Real Life).
Lorraine, pictured here pregnant with her eldest son Arthur, is fundraising for treatment so she can make memories with her children (Collect/PA Real Life).

They need £8,400 a month – or a total of £101,008 – to fund a year’s supply of the dose of a drug called Osimertinib, which Lorraine, who is now starting radiotherapy, will need. Dave says she does not currently qualify for it on the NHS.

Dave says they are now appealing to the NHS to give her the drug and are also in discussion with the drug company about compassionate funding for the treatment.

He added: “It might not save her life indefinitely, but it will be the best way for her to have a lot more time with her family, who she loves so much.”

He added: “Lorraine just wants to see Arthur go to school and see Henry reach some more milestones.

“She just wants a little longer to watch her family grow.”

A spokesperson for the NHS explained the criteria for prescribing to patients.

Lorraine pictured here with her son Arthur (Collect/PA Real Life).
Lorraine pictured here with her son Arthur (Collect/PA Real Life).

He said: “The NHS offers treatment to patients that have been licenced by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and adhere to NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommendations.

“Decisions about the right treatment for each person are made by patients, clinical experts and carers.”

* To contribute to Dave and Lorraine’s GoFundMe go to www.gofundme.com/f/help-save-lorraine-hartley

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