For most mothers, watching their little girl start secondary school would be just another happy family milestone. For Cheri Davies, who has a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer, it would mean the world.
The 43-year-old, who lives in Bromley with husband Glyn and daughter Coco, 10, has asked for help to raise £250,000 to cover the costs of a treatment that has not yet been approved by the NHS.
“My daughter is 10 years old and I want to be there to see her start secondary school, and to see her grow,” she said. “I want to hold her when she is upset, when she breaks up with a boyfriend, to see her on her wedding day and to hold grandchildren.
“Nobody knows whether they will have that joy, and the rest of the world tells me I need to be realistic, and I know that, but I can’t give up that tiny little spark that says dying will not be my story — I will find a way to be here.”
In October 2015 Ms Davies, a market researcher for JustEat, was diagnosed with the triple negative form of the illness, which has spread despite a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She said: “Breast cancer isn’t just one disease — triple negative means I am not positive for the three things they have been able to find a decent type of treatment for.”
Her oncologist at Guy’s Cancer Centre’s private wing, run by London Bridge Hospital, said the drug Pembrolizumab had proven effective on those with her condition. Also known by the trade name Keytruda, it became the first immunotherapy treatment available on the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund last year but is only used to treat a type of lung cancer. It is still in trials for use on triple negative breast cancer.
Ms Davies said finding out that she could not get the drug on the NHS was “utterly crushing”. She added: “It is the most heartbreaking thing, because you think, ‘If I was doing this in five or six years’ time I would not be going through this in the same way’.” She spent New Year’s Eve writing an online appeal for funds with her husband. The couple have since raised more than £41,000.
“People have been so generous,” she said. “It is hard to know what to say — I guess, ‘Please donate because I want to be here… I want to raise my child and I want to live here and I want to live and breathe and feel all the wonderful things that are ahead. Any extra moment that I can spend would be a real gift.’”
London Bridge Hospital said it could not comment on the care of individual patients. Mr Davies, 47, a commercial adviser at Virgin Trains, said: “Until the day Cheri was diagnosed we were just happily living our lives. We don’t know how else we could possibly fund this, and it seems like the best option we have to carry on as a family… it would extend her time, and there is always a chance it might be something even more miraculous.”