A WOMAN from Torfaen who was unable to get a cancer drug on the NHS has thanked those who raised over £53,000 for her preventative treatment.

Gemma Williams, 35, from Cwmbran, was diagnosed with a severe form of breast cancer in January 2019, just a week after her husband had suffered a quadruple heart bypass.

Mrs Williams recalled her feelings at that time, and the six months of chemotherapy that followed, saying: “The year couldn’t have started any worse really. We were all relieved that my husband was okay and then I received my diagnosis.

“Due to the severity of the cancer I knew I was going to have trouble getting the drugs I needed. It’s been a really frightening time.”

After going through treatment, the mother of two was told by doctors that a drug called Kadcyla gave her the best chance of not suffering a relapse. But the drug is only available on the NHS for secondary breast cancer, and Mrs Williams’ three requests to get the treatment were all rejected.

“When I realised I needed £45,000 I was worried and it all felt very daunting,” she said. “To have surpassed it so quickly is unbelievable.”

(Gemma has managed to raise over £53,000 despite her Christmas target being £12,000)

With the help of the people of Gwent, as well as thousands further afield, she has now raised more than enough money to have private treatment, which began in mid-November.

She added: “I didn’t think in a million years this would be possible, and I can’t thank everyone who donated enough – the vast of majority of which don’t even know me. It’s just been completely overwhelming.”

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Her preventative treatment is a nine-month process, and has been paid for with the help of those in her local community, as well as many donating via her Go Fund Me page. Events have included a concert and karaoke night in Pontypool, and a ‘Pink Day’ at Deri Diamonds rugby club.

Mrs Williams, whose target was to raise £12,000 by Christmas, said it had been a tough time for her family, who have been her much-needed support network.

“It’s been a stressful year for us all to say the least,” she said. “I am so lucky that I’ve got such a supportive network of family and friends around me. I can’t explain how thankful I am.”

Mrs Williams and her family have decided to put the spare money back into the breast cancer unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach, where she is receiving treatment. They are also donating to TRAC2 charity and the cardiac care unit that helped her husband.

(Gem's Pink Army)

She said she was intent on turning the family’s year into a positive, adding: “I think it will be good for the kids to have experienced this. My daughter (16) and my son (11) have seen how generous people have been, and now they’ve given up some of their Christmas presents to donate to others in their time of need. I thought it was really important to give something back.

“To think I can have a proper Christmas with my family without worrying about raising the funds is unbelievable.”

The family will be hosting a celebration ball on May 23, 2019 at ICC Wales, Celtic Manor Resort, where they will be celebrating their journey and all who donated. They are selling tickets and are looking for businesses to sponsor the event. You can find out more by visiting the Facebook page Gem’s Pink Army.