‘I thought I’d be at their side for next 50 years’: Mother, 37, writes heartfelt Christmas cards for her two children to open as they grow up after devastating terminal cancer diagnosis
- Laura Atkinson, 37, was diagnosed with stage four Ocular Uveal Melanoma
- She had an operation to remove tumour but the cancer spread to her liver
- The mother hopes to stay alive in time to take son Dylan for his first day at school
A mother diagnosed with terminal cancer after having no symptoms is writing Christmas cards for her children for when she is no longer around.
Married mother-of-two Laura Atkinson, 37, from Warrington, Cheshire, was given the devastating news she had stage four Ocular Uveal Melanoma in 2014 after she attending a routine eye test.
Despite having an operation to remove the tumour while she was pregnant with son Dylan, Laura’s cancer spread to her liver.
Mother-of-two Laura Atkinson, 37, from Warrington, Cheshire, is writing future birthday cards for her children
The stay-at-home mother to daughter Faye (right), six, and Dylan (left), three, is receiving treatment from the Spire Southhampton Hospital
She is now desperate to stay alive in time to take Dylan, three, for his first day at school in September 2019.
Laura, who is also a stay-at-home mother to daughter Faye, six, is currently receiving pioneering treatment from the Spire Southhampton Hospital which she hopes will let her reach this milestone.
The 37-year-old said: ‘I just want to take my son to his first day at school.
‘I want to get as close to September next year as I can.
‘I’m hoping this is the treatment that will give me the biggest chunk of time.
‘Without it I won’t make it till Easter. If I make it to September than everything after that is bonus time with my children.
Despite having an operation to remove the tumour while she was pregnant with son Dylan (pictured right with sister Faye), Laura’s cancer spread to her liver
Laura Atkinson (pictured with son Dylan) is now hoping to stay alive in time to take three-year-old Dylan for his first day at school in September next year
‘While I’m still able to I want to make memories and do nice things that they can remember.’
Laura is fundraising £80,000 on GoFundMe for the final two cycles of the pioneering treatment, which costs £40,000 per cycle, after funding two herself.
She has already prepared her will and is beginning to plan how she can still be part of her kids’ lives even when she is no longer around.
Laura said: ‘When it comes to when I’m out of options, that is when I want to do the memory bears and write cards for birthdays and Christmas.
‘I have to think about what will happen when I’m not there.
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‘When I was initially diagnosed, it was completely blind siding.
‘I wasn’t having symptoms, so it totally came out of the blue.’
Despite having emergency surgery while she was pregnant, Laura was given the devastating news shortly before Dylan’s birth that the tumour would likely return.
Laura Atkinson’s children Dylan and and Faye
To add to the nightmare, her son Dylan had to have open heart surgery only two weeks after being born.
She said: ‘It was one nightmare after another.
‘I was convincing myself that he’d got it because of me.
‘I felt like the unluckiest person in the world.’
Dylan made a full recovery and is now a happy and healthy child.
But in August 2017, while on a family holiday, Laura was called in by doctors following a routine scan and exploratory surgery and was given the shattering news that there was nothing more they could do.
She said: ‘It was just an awful moment.
‘I was devastated. I knew in my gut that it was cancer. It was just horrendous.
‘It’s indescribable. I was never naive to think it would come back but I never thought it would come back so quickly.’
Laura is fundraising £80,000 on GoFundMe for the final two cycles of the pioneering treatment at Spire Southhampton Hospital
Laura said that since she was given the news, she has focused on trying to spend as much time as possible with Dylan and Faye and her husband Keith, 46.
But she hasn’t revealed the full nature of her condition to her kids so that she can protect them.
‘We took the kids to Disneyland Paris which was something Faye was desperate to do,’ Laura said.
What is Ocular Uveal Melanoma?
- The cancer develops from cells called melanocytes
- The cells are found in the uvea- the pigmented layer of the eye, lying beneath the sclera and cornea
- Some people do not experience any symptoms
- Others can experience flashing lights, blurred vision or a shadow in one eye
- Treatment options include: Ruthenium plaque brachytherapy, Proton beam radiotherapy, Photodynamic therapy, Enucleation (removal of the eye) and Iridectomy (surgical removal of iris melanoma)
Source: Moorfields Eye Hospital
‘While I was feeling OK in February we went. It was amazing. She loved it which was the aim of that kind of memory making.
‘Dylan is too young to understand but I talk to Faye about it.
‘I say I have something growing in my tummy. She doesn’t know the ultimate ending, she doesn’t need to know that yet.’
Despite her anger, Laura hopes that her children will understand how hard she has fought to stay alive.
She said: ‘I was really angry at the start – not for me, but for the kids.
‘I was so angry that this was happening to them, I don’t understand why that has to happen to them.
‘It’s a terrible thing that will happen to them.
‘I never wanted to go, that is what I hope they understand. I don’t want them to be angry with me.
‘I just hope they won’t be cross and that this was never the way I wanted it to turn out.
‘I thought I’d be stood by their side for the next 40 or 50 years, and would never leave them so young.’
Laura is fundraising for her treatment: https://www.gofundme.com/urgent-cancer-treatment-for-laura
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