Terminally ill woman thanks her mum for saving her life after discovering new treatment
A terminally ill woman who was told by doctors she had just weeks to live has made a miraculous recovery – after her MUM googled treatments for her.
Angel Tocknell, 31, from Sutton, Surrey, was diagnosed with aggressive cervical cancer after months of back pain, heavy bleeding and weightloss.
The full-time mum-of-two, had tennis-ball sized tumours across her pelvis, ovaries and cervix.
It was impossible for doctors to operate and she was given a palliative care package before being sent home to die.
Her devastated mum, Kathy, 67, refused to give up on her girl – it was a race against time to find a miracle cure.
Thankfully their online search was successful, Angel was placed on a medical trial and underwent brachytherapy, an advanced cancer treatment that blasts cancer cells directly with radioactive beams.
She was dubbed doctors ‘little miracle’ after her deadly tumours were destroyed, she is now cancer free.
Angel said: “I was in complete shock when I was told my cancer was too aggressive for treatment.
“The thought of dying was terrifying and I was only in my late 20s when I was diagnosed.
“Surgery wasn’t an option as I was riddled with cancer that had practically dissolved all of my insides.
“It all started in 2011 with back pain but I put it down to being a busy mum of two.
“My mum, Kathy, has been my rock throughout it all, she refused to give up on me even when there was no treatment available.
“We looked into different treatment for cervical cancer and that’s when we came across brachytherapy, it was also then offered by the hospital.
“I was eligible for the medical trial at The Royal Marston Hospital and I underwent five rounds of chemotherapy, three blood transfusions, followed by a full day of brachytherapy, which is internal radiotherapy.
“It took just three months from being told I was terminal with just weeks to live to being rid of the cancer.”
Angel has battled to side effects of her invasive treatment first hand – it has changed her life forever.
She added: “Treatment has left me needing the loo every 20 minutes and I’ve gone through early menopause.
“My insides were blasted with the radiotherapy but considering I was given a death sentence, it’s amazing that I’m here at all.
“Doctors said I was their little miracle when scans revealed the tumours had gone.
Angel and her mum, Kathy, have always been close but Angel’s diagnosis and recovery has made their bond extra special.
Kathy, who is retired, said: “I burst into tears when doctors told us Angel’s back ache and bleeding was due to advanced cervical cancer.
“She had missed her first smear test at 25 as she was pregnant with her daughter but after the birth she was constantly bleeding, making it impossible for her to have one done.
“Once we had her diagnosis, we got straight onto Google to look up her cancer and the prognosis, I couldn’t just sit back and let my girl die, she had a little girl, Summer, five, and Callum, 14.
“The medical trial have been life saving, we’re so thankful to the doctors who saved Angel’s life by allowing her on it.”
Angel now has check-ups every three months to check her cancer hasn’t returned and she’s looking forward to the future.
She added: “This May will be the forth one since being told I was in the all clear, it’s been a rollercoaster of a journey.
“I have lived in fear of it coming back ever since I was diagnosed but I hope my story demonstrates why you should never ignore any worrying symptoms.
“It would be lifesaving if the smear test age was lowered, I might have avoided all of this invasive treatment and long term effects.
“I’m so thankful to my mum for being my rock and all the medical staff that helped me beat cancer.”
Dr Alexandra Taylor, a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden said: “Brachytherapy is an essential part of our treatment for women with cervical cancer.
“Following external beam radiotherapy, it is used to deliver a very high dose boost of radiation directly to the tumour, avoiding healthy tissue and minimising dose to the organs such as the bowel and bladder.
“Under a general anaesthetic, tubes are placed into the uterus and vagina so that the tubes lie touching the tumour.
“Radioactive balls (sources) can then be fed into the tubes and the radiation is given locally around the tube into the tumour using an individually designed treatment plan.
“At The Royal Marsden we use image guided brachytherapy, which makes the radiotherapy treatment very accurate.
“Using MRI imaging, we are able to pinpoint exactly where the cancer is before each treatment.
“This makes it possible to shape the radiation dose to match the shape of the tumour.
“By delivering higher doses in a more targeted fashion we are able to improve the likelihood of curing the cancer.”
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