A young mother-of-three is pleading for information about a devastating rare cancer that could leave her with less than a year to live.
Liz Sheppard, from Mansfield Woodhouse, has been diagnosed with small cell stomach cancer - a condition so rare that doctors know little about how to tackle the disease.
The 36-year-old is now appealing to the medical world to at least prolong her life and spread awareness.
Liz said: “You can’t even find anything about it on the internet it’s that rare, I’ve been told it’s usually found in Japanese men over the age of 70, but that’s about it.
“There’s just no data about it so you can’t even put a number on it world wide. I want to find anybody out there who can help with clinical trials.
“The life expectancy it most likely a year with treatment, and without it is six months.
“There’s obviously other cases in the world.”
Liz, who works as a clinical typist for King’s Mill Hospital, was diagnosed in November last year and complained of symptoms three months beforehand which included extreme tiredness, feeling full after a small meal, bad skin and discolouration of teeth.
She remained hopeful after several gruelling 10-hour chemotherapy sessions had showed that the tumour found in her stomach had shrunk.
But last month she was given the devastating news that a second tumour had grown and there was little that can be done for her.
“When I first out I had cancer it’s like the adverts you see, it’s like white noise,” said Liz, who is married with three girls aged 3, 9 and 15.
“I was devastated and just kept repeating ‘what about my girls?’
“I never thought it would be this, but everyone wad really positive because after the initial treatment I looked a lot better.
“I realised I was never going to have a cure but hoped I could expand my life expectancy.
“It just stunned everybody when the consultant told us, it was just as hard for her to deliver it to us.”
But remaining extremely positive, she added: “There’s two ways you can deal with this, you could easily become very depressed but I have got so much to live for.”
And while Liz and her family continue their long search for help and information about the killer illness, she has been offered a pioneering new treatment called NanoKnife in which part of the second tumour can be burnt away.
Designed for those with inoperable cancer, two fine needles are guided through the skin by ultrasound or CT scans to the tumour after which a strong electric current is passed through it.
Although it can’t cure cancer, it is hoped it is one procedure that may help prolong her life.
The entire procedure takes around 45 minutes and is performed under general anaesthetic, however, because it is not available through the NHS for Liz, it will cost around £20,000 each session at the Princess Grace Hospital in London for the surgery and aftercare.
This is money that has to be raised.
As a result, fundraising events are being quickly organised including one in the Bristol area where Liz had lived in the 1990s.
Two are planned in Mansfield Woodhouse, starting this Sunday afternoon, September 11 with a charity football match at Debdale.
Involving local players, the game will start at 1pm and will be kicked off by Liz’s granddad, 86-year-old Donald Hardy.
Costing £2 to watch, there will also be fun for kids with a bouncy castle and face painting.
The following week will see a fundraising day at the Black Bull on Woodhouse Road.
Starting at noon on Saturday, September 17, there will be a bouncy castle, face painting and stalls.
Then from 7pm until 12, there will be a disco, games, raffle and an auction and costs £5 entry for the evening.
Family friend Drena Froggatt, who is helping organise the Black Bull event, said: “Her positivity is unbelievable and she is such an inspiration.
“Liz and her family have been doing everything to research this rare form of cancer, so we’re wanting to smash this £20,000.”
Anyone wanting further information can find details on Facebook or by contacting Drena on 07927 776279.
For details on the football match, contact Jessica Grieves on 07854 091738.
Meanwhile, a JustGiving page has also been set up which has already gathered in more than £2,645.
To donate, log onto www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/liz-sheppard
“Everybody has been amazing in the community and beyond, those at St Edmund’s Church where I go every week has been brilliant and even complete strangers have been helping,” added Liz.
“We are humbled by the community spirit, I can’t say a big enough thank you - it helps make me stronger.”