Mum of two fights back after being given just days to live
PUBLISHED: 22:24 27 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 30 October 2018
The family of 33-year-old Gemma Edgar are desperately searching for a clinical trial to help improve her quality of life after she was told her brain tumour was inoperable and that she had just days to live.
Mother of two, Gemma Edgar, 33, was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour in 2014.
Despite numerous therapies and surgery to remove the tumour, the former paediatric nurse relapsed last year.
At the end of September, 2018, it was deemed inoperable.
However, three weeks after being told she would not survive the weekend, Mrs Edgar is showing signs of strength.
Her dad, Andy Relf said: “The medical care and professionalism at Colchester General Hospital were first class.
“Three weeks on, Gemma is still with us and is receiving superb care and kindness in St Helena Hospice.
“Although she remains very poorly, Gemma quickly started to amaze the staff with her strength of mind and upbeat demeanour.
“This mental approach, linked with her medication, has resulted in daily improvements.”
Mrs Edgar was first diagnosed with the GBM four years ago after experiencing migraine-type symptoms.
She soon underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by radiotherapy.
Sadly, the tumour returned in 2017 and Mrs Edgar had to undergo further surgery and chemotherapy.
Mr Relf said: “Sadly a scan in August revealed that the tumour had re-grown.
“Plans were made for Gemma to have a third craniotomy (brain surgery).
“However, at the end of September, Gemma deteriorated rapidly and was admitted to hospital.
“It was heart-breaking to hear after a further scan that the tumour had grown considerably in just six weeks and was now deemed to be inoperable.
“Not only that, but we were told that Gemma was unlikely to survive the weekend.”
Mrs Edgar defied medics and, with the help of medication, her strong mental attitude and the work of Colchester hospital staff, her condition had improved.
Mr Relf has said that his daughter has started to drink and eat again.
She is also slowly regaining physical strength to the left side of her body which was previously completely paralysed by her cancer.
Mr Relf said: “Gemma still has big limitations, but we believe at the rate of improvement she has shown over the last week she may combat these too.
“We are desperately searching to see if she might be accepted onto a clinical trial to complement the current medical care and help improve Gemma’s quality of life and possibly also prolong it.”
Mr Relf, Gemma’s mum Barb, her brother Lee and husband Rob, will all be supporting the Brain Tumour Research charity in their mission to find a cure.
“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer,” said Mr Relf.
“Yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“This is just not acceptable.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable UK research into the cancer.
It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to increase brain tumour investment.
They hope to speed-up treatment of tumours and to ultimately find a cure.
The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes.
They hope that this would bring the rates in-line with other cancers such as leukaemia.
Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive at Brain Tumour Research, said: “For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer. Gemma and her family should be proud of how they have helped us both to fund research into brain tumours at our dedicated centres and also to campaign for change.
“The Government and Cancer Research UK are now listening but there is still so much to do to bring parity with other cancers such as breast and leukaemia.
“We all owe it to Gemma and her family to make another push and donate in Gemma’s name.
“Please, please show your support for Gemma and donate now. Together we will find a cure.”
Donations can be made at Gemma’s JustGiving page.