“Israel is my last hope to cure my cancer - I'm going to a war zone to try and save my life”

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“Even though it's a risk going to Israel, when your life's on the line, you'll take any amount of risk.”

A mother from Dronfield is asking the public for help to secure what could be her last chance to beat advanced skin cancer.

Esther Allen, aged 43, has been battling stage four melanoma for 14 years. But time is starting to run out, and the mum-of-one desperately needs help to undergo potentially life-saving treatment unavailable on the NHS.

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Her oncology team has recommended tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy (TIL), but this special treatment is currently only offered in two places - the USA and war-torn Israel.

Esther Allen pictured with her loving husband Chris. The pair met in high school and married in 2010.Esther Allen pictured with her loving husband Chris. The pair met in high school and married in 2010.
Esther Allen pictured with her loving husband Chris. The pair met in high school and married in 2010. | Esther Allen

The ongoing Israel-Gaza war means the country is far from an ideal place to travel to for cancer treatment, but the estimated amount of money needed for the medical care there is between £120,000 to £130,000. Whereas the USA is estimated to cost four times that amount without taking into account the nursing costs or scans.

The Christie, a cancer specialist hospital in Manchester, used to offer the treatment under private healthcare.

Esther said: “It was a huge disappointment when they just finished providing it at The Christie. This treatment has basically been our beacon of hope since 2010 when there were no other treatments. Now I need it and it’s not available here anymore.

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“I’m now asking people to help me. I’m going to a war zone to try and save my life.”

Esther found out she had melanoma in 2005, nine years after having a malignant mole misdiagnosed as non-cancerous.

Sadly it progressed, and in 2009, just four months after Esther and her husband Chris welcomed their daughter Heidi into the world, Esther was told her melanoma was stage four.

She said: “My body has worked really, really well in fighting it over the years, and they've been able to surgically remove it for the last 15 years. But things have changed, and it's got more aggressive.”

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Dronfield family Esther and Chris Allen with their daughter Heidi, aged 14.Dronfield family Esther and Chris Allen with their daughter Heidi, aged 14.
Dronfield family Esther and Chris Allen with their daughter Heidi, aged 14. | Esther Allen

Esther has had around 20 surgeries to remove the tumours over the years, including in her lung, gallbladder, pancreas, chest and neck. 

When surgery was no longer an option, she was started on chemotherapy, and then  immunotherapy. But this is no longer working either.

Mum Jane Henderson has made it her life’s mission searching for treatment options for her daughter. Jane said: “The trials have become our option because we've exhausted all the treatments now.

“TIL has a 25 per cent chance of cure, which are pretty good odds. Even though it's a risk going to Israel, and the treatment is very, very arduous, when your life's on the line, you'll take any amount of risk.

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Family and friends are desperately fundraising for Esther to undergo potentially life-saving cancer treatment in Israel.Family and friends are desperately fundraising for Esther to undergo potentially life-saving cancer treatment in Israel.
Family and friends are desperately fundraising for Esther to undergo potentially life-saving cancer treatment in Israel. | Esther Allen

“We need to raise enough money to pay for the first stage and then just keep raising it. We need to raise it quick, because the tumours are growing, and the immunotherapy, which we're still on, doesn't seem to be working.”

Since launching a GoFundMe appeal on Monday, June 3, more than £12,000 has been donated to the family.

A number of friends and family members have organised fundraising events, and Esther’s daughter, 14-year-old Heidi, has designed her own tote bags to help her mother. These can be purchased from Love & Unique for £15.

To find out more about fundraising events, and to donate to the fundraiser, please visit: https://gofund.me/f943ce7d

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