A mum-of-five from Sheffield battling terminal bone marrow cancer has backed a new drive to find a cure for the disease.
Jaqui Copley, aged 56, from Ecclesall, was diagnosed two years ago with myeloma and has spoken of the ‘devastating’ impact on her family.
More than 5,000 people in the UK are diagnosed each year with the incurable cancer – and Jaqui says she is determined to help find a cure even if it comes too late for her.
She is backing a new appeal by Sheffield Hospitals Charity to fund research into the disease at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
Haematology consultant Dr Andrew Chantry and his team at the hospital are working on the ‘anti-myeloma virus project’ to eliminate the disease, which affects the body’s plasma cells.
The charity says the latest lab results are ‘encouraging’ but £90,000 is needed to continue their search for a cure over the next three years.
Jaqui was diagnosed with myeloma after suffering severe rib pain for more than a year and has had extensive treatment including a stem cell transplant.
She told how she was ‘completely terrified’ and her husband was ‘devastated’ when the news was broken. She has since made it her mission to prevent others enduring such agony.
“I’m not afraid of dying, but I am scared of what I’ll miss. I have five children and our eldest daughter has a toddler and has recently had a little boy. I want to be here as long as possible so I can see them, and any future grandchildren I may have, growing up,” she said.
“I get very angry about cancer. The only way I can cope is to work as hard as possible to find a cure for myeloma and have been actively fundraising since I got my diagnosis. So far this year, my family, friends and I have raised about £17,000 for myeloma research.
“Dr Chantry’s research may not directly benefit me, but if it helps other people fighting myeloma in the future that will be a truly wonderful thing. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what we all have.”
The anti-myeloma virus project, run by the Sheffield Myeloma Research Team, has used a genetically engineered virus to target and kill the cancerous myeloma cells without affecting healthy cells.
The results so far have been remarkable. After just two days of being introduced to the virus, myeloma cells were reduced by half, and after four days they had gone.
Dr Chantry said: “Imagine if this Christmas was your last, or it was the last for one of your family members. For those living with myeloma, this is a reality they have to face.
“Please think about what Christmas means to you and your loved ones and consider donating to help fund further research into this potentially ground-breaking cure.”
n To donate, visit Sffield Hospital Charity