The wife of a cancer victim is racing against time to be able to raise US$586,940 (£400,000) so her husband can get life-saving treatment in America.
Kate Brandon, the 33-year-old wife, has six days to raise the funds so her husband Mike can join a clinical trial in the US, which can turn out to be a cure for him.
During her campaign to get the necessary funds, she released a video that is beyond touching and heartbreaking. She begged people to share his story and donate to their cause.
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As she was holding back her tears, she says, “I’m sure you can all imagine what it is like being faced with losing the most important person to you. Please help me combat what we’re facing. I know with your help we can get him to where he needs to be. We can’t go down without a fight. You hear of miracles all the time, they are rare, but they happen.”
So far, they have raised £150,000 or a little over $220,000 after the donations poured in. The reaction was so immense that, at one point, the Web site crashed.
Mike Brandon, 31, was told that he had cancer of the blood, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, in January 2014. They launched a campaign to find him a stem cell donor, and that life-prolonging treatment allowed Mike and Kate time to get married. Two years after the initial diagnosis, they received news that the disease has returned but in a more aggressive form. Now his only hope is to go to Pennsylvania for special therapy, which costs £400,000 (over US$586,000). Despite the cost, his wife, Kate, is determined to find a way to raise the money she needs to save his life.
It was two years ago that Brandon was diagnosed. He had been having night sweats and excessive fatigue. He began chemotherapy, and doctors said his condition was so bad he needed to find a stem cell donor by July of 2014. At that time, Mrs. Brandon was still single and backpacking through Asia. When he told her about his diagnosis, she went home.
Initially, there was only a 60 percent chance of one of Mike’s siblings being a match and able to provide stem cells. But none of them were deemed compatible, so they contacted Anthony Nolan, a charity that works with people with blood cancer who need stem cell transplants. Their predicament and race against time was on the Internet, and it grabbed the attention of many around the world.
Kate’s campaign was called #Shake4Mike. She asked the public to register with the charity as stem cell donors and to upload “shaky face” selfies to social media and nominate a friend to do the same. The campaign went viral, and it was covered by UK and international media. It reached 200 million people, and the charity had thousands of donors registering.
In May, they found a donor, and on June 30, 2014, Mike got the transplant that prolonged his life. Since that time, he has been on anti-cancer medication and has done 20 bone marrow biopsies. When he contracted pneumonia, he needed more stem cells and white blood cells from his donor.
Even with the challenges of bad health, they were able to marry in June of 2015.
They had the wedding of their dreams. Only seven days before the wedding, Mike was sick, but he was able to get through the whole ceremony and even danced at the reception. Being able to get married was a huge accomplishment for the couple. They enjoyed a few months of normal married life until February 2016.
Mike started to feel sick again. Medical tests revealed that his white blood cells had dropped to a low level. In March, doctors told the couple that his leukemia had returned, and this time it was more aggressive. His doctor, David Marks, told him that there wasn’t much he could do to save his life. Mike had undergone all the treatment that the NHS offers. So Kate was forced to look for another solution. That is when she found a treatment called CAR T-Cell therapy. That is when stem cells are inserted into the body and help the immune system fight the cancer.
British doctors warned Kate that the treatment would be costly, upwards of £1 million (over US$1.4 million). Mike began a course on a new drug called Inotuzumab, which is not yet available in the UK. In trials, 79 percent of the patients who took the drug went into remission but relapsed after an average of just 4.8 months. For the Brandons, this was not long enough. They needed more time. Kate explained, “Inotuzumab gives us hope because we’ve been told it provides a good chance of complete remission, but the average time is only four months. It’s not long enough. I want to have a baby.”
She added, “That’s what people should be doing after their first year of marriage. They should be planning their family, not planning a funeral.”
Mike did not respond well to the drug. So their last option was to travel to Pennsylvania. It was going to be his last real chance of survival. The University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Centre is the one conducting the trial. They will cover the cost of the drug they are monitoring. They have also given the Brandons $16,000 (around £11,900) to help with their travel and living costs during the trial.
They still need to pay the US$586,940 to cover the cost of the medical care and to have one of only six remaining places on the trial. The CAR T-cell therapy has a high response rate of complete remission, which seems to be more of a cure for Mike. The Brandons just want to use up all their options of treatment.
Kate says, “Our last campaign reached 200 million people, we just need a fraction of those to donate money. It’s not Shake4Mike anymore; it’s DONATE4Mike. We need £400,000 to give us hope again, and we need it as quickly as possible.”
Since her fundraising campaign has begun, she’s been positive, and she’s determined to believe that reaching her goal is possible. She is just a wife who wants to try everything to save her husband.