Having battled with terminal cancer for more than a year, and having to bury her child in that time, a woman from Lavenham is now asking for people to help support her family.
Kate King was first diagnosed with cancer in December 2014 after suffering undiagnosed back problems and diarrhoea for six months.
At the time she was pregnant with her seventh child but was told both her and the child would be dead within six weeks if she did not start chemotherapy immediately.
Having faced the trauma of burying her child and suffering months of side-effects from chemotherapy, Mrs King is about to start another round of treatment.
“It’s like a living nightmare” she said.
“Everything you assume you are going to be able to do in the future is taken away.”
Despite aggressive chemotherapy successfully shrinking tumours in her liver, bones, breast and ovaries, there is no cure and Mrs King is simply hoping to spend as much time as possible with her husband and six children at their home in Trinity Gild, Lavenham.
The 41-year-old is self employed, having run Hopscotch Handmade Gifts since 2009 as well as an events company since 2011.
But for much of the past year she has been left unable to work.
Her husband Richard, 46, a self-employed auto-electrician, is also unable to work, taking his wife to hospital every day.
Despite this, the family is not entitled to additional benefits and Mrs King says it is now a desperate struggle for the family just to survive.
She has set up a fundraising page to help the family in the coming months. The children go to school in Essex, the family having formerly lived in Pebmarsh, but Mrs King is now unable to drive.
Mrs King would also like to buy a wig to help her young family come to terms with her hair loss as she starts a course of radiotherapy, being diagnosed with brain cancer on November 11.
With no money coming into the household Mrs King said: “This treatment is going to leave me extremely ill for three weeks. This is my busiest period for the business.”
Mrs King added: “It’s for food and rent. It’s not for luxuries, it’s for survival.
“Having people supporting us with their donations means that we can enjoy Christmas as a family unit and actually be able to enjoy being together.
“It could possibly be our last Christmas as a family unit.”
The treatment and the severe side-effects will not end with the radiotherapy. In January she will begin another six months of chemotherapy.
“The doctors have made it clear I may not have that long,” she said.
“I’m trying to ask what to expect to make contingency plans. I’m on online support groups but not many people have had this.”
“I’m asking about memory loss, whether it will be permanent or temporary.”
“There’s too many tumours for them to hope to shrink them. It’s a matter of holding it back for as long as possible.”
Mrs King’s first symptoms came in the summer of 2014, with what felt like a trapped nerve in her back. She was also suffering with diarrhoea.
“I couldn’t get an appointment with my doctor,” she said. “I didn’t get an appointment until the end of October, by which time my neck had seized. I couldn’t move at all”
After finally being given blood tests, it was revealed her liver was failing. The tests also revealed Mrs King was pregnant, meaning she could not have a colonoscopy.
While she had repeated tests her condition worsened.
“I struggled taking the stairs,” she said. “I couldn’t get out of the car without my children helping me.
“I was waking every hour with diarrhoea. Then I couldn’t get out of bed.”
It was when she had scans for the baby that the sonographer noticed something.
Frustratingly there were further delays, all the time her symptoms getting worse.
She finally had emergency bloods tests, an emergency liver ultra sound and an emergency liver biopsy during the week before Christmas. The liver was found to be completely covered in tumours.
Further tests revealed the inoperable primary behind the breast, with doctors revealing the cancer was advanced and terminal.
She was told to begin preparing a will immediately and to start making arrangements for her family.
On New Year’s Eve Mrs King had a full-body CT scan which showed the cancer had spread to her bones and that there was probably a second primary on her ovaries.
Originally given just six months to live, the treatment did shrink the tumours, despite suffering severe and “unpleasant” side-effects from the chemotherapy.
However, in November she had an emergency brain scan after suffering visual disturbances, weight loss and sickness, and was told the cancer had now spread to her brain.
It was then that Mrs King decided to set up her fundraising page to help support her family as she is again left weak and unable to work, needing the support of her husband.
Mrs King explained that the older of her six children, aged between two and 15, had been told about her cancer.
“The youngest don’t understand the situation really,” she said.
So rare is Mrs King’s set of conditions that just two cases similar to hers are seen nationwide each year.
She explained that it was unprecedented in someone of her age.
As a result West Suffolk Hospital, where she is being treated, is working with Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to get a better understanding of her condition.
Mrs King is also setting up a blog to give advice to others suffering with cancer.
To donate to Mrs King’s fundraising page visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/kate-king-cancer
You can also email Mrs King at firstname.lastname@example.org.