"Healthy" Leeds dad given devastating cancer diagnosis as fundraiser launched to see miracle baby grow up
A Leeds family has launched a desperate fundraiser to allow a previously "fit and healthy" dad to see his miracle baby grow up - after he was given a devastating cancer diagnosis.
James Hart was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer that has spread to his liver in July 2020 when he was aged just 35.
Courageous James - who is now 36 and was previously "fit and healthy" - has been given just months to live by doctors.
Now, his wife Joanne, 29, has launched a fundraiser for pioneering treatment at a London clinic which is not available on the NHS.
The couple from Tingley had a miracle baby together despite James' medical diagnosis and Joanne is praying that the new treatment would allow him to be able to see her grow up.
James also has a son from a previous relationship and Joanne has three daughters from a previous relationship.
Speaking to the YEP, Joanne said the new treatment is their "last chance".
She said: "An oncology clinic in London offers alternative off label medicine that directly stops the cancer growth and even kills it.
"There are literally thousands of people on this treatment and we get updates from them regularly on progress.
"Even at stage 4 people can kill the cancer.
"This treatment works along side chemotherapy and can help chemotherapy work better.
"We have nothing to lose.
"It’s possibly our last chance."
Joanne first met James in April 2019.
She said: "I connected with him in a way I’ve never connected with anyone before.
"Even our kids got along amazingly.
"Things moved pretty quickly and by the end of October we had decided to get married the following June and begun making plans to start a business together."
The pair opened a vape and coffee shop in Heckmondwike and "life was perfect", Joanne said.
She added: "We were making so many plans for the future, we were both happier than we had ever been and the kids were thriving."
However, at the beginning of May 2020 James became unwell suddenly and was taken to hospital with abdominal pain where he was diagnosed with pancreatitis.
He was treated and discharged with no further follow up, but "things still weren’t right".
Joanne added: "James had constant pain, digestive issues and fatigue.
"Over the next couple of months he was back and forth to the GP but just got told repeatedly that he was suffering with constipation as a result of the pain killers he had been taking while in hospital.
"James was struggling more day to day, the fatigue was building up and his digestive system was all over the place.
"He developed severe itching in his arms and legs then one day while in the garden with the kids I noticed James’ skin tone was looking yellow, I asked to see his eyes and they were the same.
"We knew something wasn’t right so rang 111 who advised he go to hospital so he went straight there for further testing."
James was sent for a CT scan and the pair got the devastating news that James had a 6cm tumour on his pancreas and the cancer had spread to his liver where there was several spots ranging in size up to 4cm.
Joanne added: "To say it came as a shock is an understatement.
"Up until May, James had been fit and healthy with no signs of anything wrong.
"The tumour on the pancreas was blocking his bile duct which was causing the jaundice and he needed a stent fitting to open it back up."
At James’ first oncology appointment the family were told that James’ cancer was inoperable and without treatment he would likely have months to live.
Miraculously, during James' hospital stay, Joanne found out she was pregnant.
Joanne said: "We were shocked but we knew it had happened for a reason.
"It was another reason to keep fighting.
"Three days after James was discharged after some very last minute phone calls from James’ bedside in the hospital we got married.
"It was a small ceremony with just our closest family with us followed by a meal at a restaurant, but it was perfect.
"It was an escape from the awful situation we had found ourselves in even if it was just for one day."
Unfortunately, James and Joanne were forced to give up their dream business due to the situation and debts have started to build up.
The couple's baby daughter Kaiya Aurora arrived earlier this year.
Joanne added: "She was a light in the darkest of times, we felt happy for the first time in nine months, I saw James smile and heard him laugh for the first time in months.
"She relighted the fire in him to keep going, to keep fighting."
The family have now been given the devastating news that the chemotherapy is not working on James.
Their final hope is treatment in London - recommended by an old friend of James.
Joanne said: "James has just started the new treatment from the clinic in London but this treatment is not available on the NHS so we are having to try and find the funds to pay for the consultations and medications ourselves.
"This treatment has brought us hope that we can still have some of the future we hoped for.
"That James can see our kids grow up."
Almost £4,000 has been raised for the family in just 48 hours.