Natalie continues her desperate battle for life...
From Andy Fairclough, Wurzburg, Germany
My partner Natalie and I have spent the last 14 months in Wurzburg with our two year old daughter Elkie, while Natalie takes part in the clinical trial of a new drug to fight her leukaemia.
Things have been difficult here since I last wrote. In the last few weeks our friends Bobby and Dave from Sydney both lost their brave fight with leukaemia. They were on the same trial as Natalie and, like men at war, we had bonded in our desperation.
Our hearts go out to Nicole, Pam and Fiona, who have been here for many months, bravely fighting for their loved ones. They are now left empty, broken and dejected. To add to the misery my beautiful mum died suddenly in her sleep a couple of weeks ago. She was eighty six years old and her time was due but she was my faithful mum throughout my life and I too was broken.
Meanwhile Natalie's own desperate battle has been gaining in intensity. The leukaemic tumour in her abdomen is now the size of an American football. It has caused compression of her bile duct, a kidney tubule and a large vein running into her leg. Professor Topp quickly inserted stents into each of these vessels to keep things flowing. Natalie then received two cycles of chemotherapy in an attempt to break down the tumour. There was little response. Next she received intensive radiotherapy which made her desperately sick but had limited effect on the resilient leukaemia.
On Sunday a week ago Max called me late to say that Natalie's intestines had become obstructed and that we were a few steps away from septicaemia, which she would not survive. He explained that a high-risk surgical intervention to remove the blockage was now the best option.
Two hours later Natalie was on the operating table. At 2 am the surgeon sent me a text to confirm the operation was successful and that Natalie had been transferred to ICU. I went to see her early. Despite terrible frailty, a huge wound in her stomach and a colostomy bag, she smiled and whispered that she was happy to be alive.
By lunchtime Max confirmed that she was out of immediate danger and that I could safely return to London to bury my poor mum. I arrived in time to help my brother Phil carry her coffin into the church. We gave her a great send off. I returned directly to Wurzburg to find beautiful Natalie smiling and feeling defiant once again.
Natalie has now been in hospital for a month. She had desperately wanted to see Elkie open her Christmas presents. Max Topp was sensitive to this and had made special arrangements at the hospital. Shortly before lunch on Christmas day Max drove me to the hospital to collect Nat. Her Christmas wish was granted and we all spent a few magical hours at home with Elkie.
What next? Neither chemotherapy or radiotherapy have worked and Blinatumomab was excluded for use outside the bone marrow. Natalie is riddled with leukaemia and her life hangs by a burning thread. She desperately needs something.
Because there is a medical view that Blinatumomab might work if administered at a much higher dose, and because Natalie has nothing to lose and everything to gain, she has now been granted compassionate access to the drug. It has never been used before in this setting and Natalie is patient number one in the experiment. With no past data to rely upon Professor Topp will monitor her around the clock. This morning she began the potentially lifesaving infusion again. At the time of writing her lab values look good and she is doing well.
A month ago Natalie wrote a beautiful song about
our daughter Elkie. She was on steroids and couldn't
sleep. If you would like to listen to it follow the link below and prepare a box of tissues!
Once again Natalie and I would like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you for the many wonderful messages we have received and for your ongoing generosity in donating to our cause. We would also like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Andy, Natalie and Elkie
We are continuing to try to raise funds to support our cause. If you would like to ‘go again for Nat' please make a contribution by credit card using the donations page on the Flying Fish website.
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