'I'm just asking for more time with my family': Over £11,000 raised to prolong life of terminally ill Meanwood mum-of-two

Over £11,000 has been raised to prolong the life of a terminally ill mum-of-two from Leeds with over 20 tumours in her liver.

By Tom Coates
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 4:45 am

Heather Adams, 38, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in May 2021 and was informed it had metastasized to her liver.

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The cancer is terminal but hope of seeing milestones such as her 40th birthday has been provided by a drug named bevacizumab, sold under the brand name Avastin, which Heather has been told could extend her life.

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Heather Adams was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2021. Credit: Jonathan Gawthorpe

However, the drug is not available to everyone for free via the NHS and her husband Mark Ashton, 40, has established a fundraising campaign to help pay for the bevacizumab treatment.

Heather said: "We just hope that the Avastin can give us extra time.

"It's a weird and surreal position to be in when all you want is time. I'm not asking for a car, I'm not asking for a new house or special holiday or anything.

"I'm just asking for more time with my family, which is just a really surreal situation to be in.

Mark Ashton has established a fundraising campaign for his wife. Credit: Jonathan Gawthorpe

"Some days cancer doesn't take over, but a lot of the time cancer is pretty much in the middle of everything."

Heather lives in Meanwood with her husband Mark and their sons Finlay, 10, and Elliott, 7, and was training to be a counsellor before her diagnosis. Her eldest son will be moving to secondary school in 2023 and she is keen to see both children make the transition from primary school to secondary school.

She said: "I remember walking into Asda and just bursting out crying because I was like, 'what if I don't get to buy their school clothes again?'.

"I want to see Elliott get to high school as well, but I don't know if that's pushing it too much."

After being diagnosed, she was told the best case scenario was living for another five years and that the worst case scenario was dying within a year.

Mark said: "With a young family, that was just never anticipated, it's not something that you plan for at all."

Heather added; "It's the worst thing that you can hear. I remember when the oncologist told us, we just sat there and all we could think of was Finlay's 10th birthday. Am I going to see it? And I have, which is amazing. The chemotherapy has definitely helped.

"The biggest option for us was to do a GoFundMe, which is really difficult and a really challenging position to be put in to, asking people to help you stay alive effectively, which is really hard, but the response we've had has been amazing."

Bowel cancer can be curable if caught early but after Heather was diagnosed, a surgeon claimed the size of the tumour suggested it had already been present for around 12-18 months.

As well as promoting the fundraiser for her treatment, she is keen for awareness to be raised about the importance of detecting symptoms.

With the support of charity Bowl Cancer UK, ITV show Lorraine recently launched a campaign called 'No Butts' designed to raise awareness of the illness and its symptoms, which include blood in poo, obvious changes in bowel movements and extreme tiredness.

She explained: "You don't meet a doctor every day, sometimes you've just got to recognize it yourself."

As it stands, the fundraiser has accumulated £11,745 in donations and the target is to reach £40,000, which could potentially cover three years worth of bevacizumab treatment.

Mark is preparing to run in the Leeds Half Marathon on 8 May to help raise funds and a quiz night has been arranged for 17 May at Burley restaurant Meat is Dead, among other fundraising plans.

Heather said: "I think we've had a very positive response to it. I think we've just been like 'this is what's happening and we're going to make the most of every second'.

"I think generally we do that. There are days when it is really tough but you just have to make the most of it.

"I think it's a double-edged sword. It's almost a gift to realise what you've got, and what we've got is amazing."

The GoFundMe page can be accessed here and NHS information on bowel cancer can be viewed here.