The family of a Bristol mother battling terminal cancer has launched a crowdfunder to give her precious time with her children as she embarks on a ‘last option’ trial in London in a bid to prolong her life.
Leanne Williams, 37, from Bishopsworth was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia five years ago when she was pregnant with her third child. She noticed a lump on her neck and was admitted to Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre. She was told that if she continued her pregnancy, neither she or her baby would survive.
Her third son, Theo, was ‘born sleeping’ at 20 weeks and the next day Leanne immediately started a battle for her own life.
She began an intensive period of chemotherapy and whilst she initially responded positively, a few months later she had a series of seizures and was admitted to intensive care.
Her condition deteriorated and her family was called to visit her late one night, with doctors indicating that she was unlikely to pull through.
But Leanne made huge progress after doctors managed her seizures and her treatment continued more successfully. She went into remission and eventually her treatment finished in autumn 2020.
Last year, Leanne enjoyed a trip of a lifetime in South Africa with her partner’s family and began organising to catch up on everything she’d missed during her treatment and the pandemic.
She made plans for a weekend away for her sister’s 40th birthday and was planning a family summer holiday. But just before Christmas, Leanne noticed another lump on her neck and went through the same heart-breaking process.
Leukaemia was diagnosed again, followed by an intense period of chemotherapy. Sadly, Leanne discovered last week that the treatment wasn’t successful and has now been given one last option to try to prolong her life and have the opportunity to see her two teenage boys finish school and grow up.
She is taking part in a new medical trial in London, which means she’ll need to relocate for three months so the family has launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to raise money to cover the costs of accommodation in central London.
In the first 24 hours of the campaign being launched, £5,000 of the initial £7,500 target has been donated.
The crowdfunder is being run by Leanne’s brother-in-law, Tim Clark. He’s married to Leanne’s sister and the two families have always done things together over the past 20 years.
Tim says: “I think Leanne’s emotional story has struck a chord with a lot of people and we’ve had a lot of support from friends but also a lot of donations from people who don’t know her.
“We want to get the accommodation so her two boys can stay with her at night but the cost of that for three months in central London could be £15,000.
“Our initial target was to help towards that and it is gaining momentum. We may put the target up because the more we raise, the more flexible her options are for finding somewhere suitable as it needs to be somewhere clean and free of infection for the duration of the trial.”
Leanne is well-known in Bishopsworth and Hartcliffe. She went to school in south Bristol, as do her sons, and she worked as a school dinner lady at St Peter’s Primary School and childminder. Tim says the local community has already rallied around to help Leanne and the family at this critical time.
He said: “We’ve had lots of support from people locally. Leanne is well known in the area and she has a big network of people in the area. She’s an amazingly brave and positive person and she has been the whole way through the past five years.
“She was so close to getting back to a normal life but then her world was turned upside down right before Christmas. She’s in a difficult place and very poorly but she’s amazing. She’s an impressive and brave person.
“She only heard last week that the chemotherapy hadn’t worked so that has been disheartening and difficult. She’s processing it, being pragmatic and planning what happens next.
“Now that the chemotherapy didn’t work, she knows she’s on to her last options and that’s why we need to make her stay in London as comfortable as possible and there’s no stress about money or being away from family.
“It’s important that the three months of the trial are three months she has left with her children and her family around her rather than 100 miles from home on her own in unsuitable accommodation.
“She’s waiting to hear when she goes to London for the start of the trial but it could be in the next week so time is of the essence and we’re trying to raise as much money as we can to make it as comfortable as we can for Leanne and her boys.”
To donate to Leanne’s crowdfunder, please click here.