Mum of two, Jenny Tombs, from Midsomer Norton, is reaching out for help to enable her to access specialist cancer treatment in Madrid, Spain, after being diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, an extremely rare form of cancer in 2018.
Jenny, who was diagnosed with the complex cancer, affecting just two in every one million, has undergone multiple surgeries, procedures and treatments, but has now been told, after self-referring to many clinical trials, her only option is to seek help from a specialist hospital over seas.
The 47-year-old, who works at Peasedown St John Primary School, spoke to The Journal about her ongoing battle: “Five and a half years ago I was diagnosed with a complex cancer which originates in the appendix and spreads throughout the abdomen.
“The first line of treatment is Cytoreductive surgery, which I had at Basingstoke Hospital in April 2018, and is nicknamed MOAS (Mother of all Surgeries), taking thirteen hours! I had my appendix, spleen, gallbladder, ovaries, uterus and part of my bowel removed!”
Jenny explained how her treatment was put on hold due to the covid-19 pandemic, like so many others, and that her second surgery was delayed for ten months due to a lack of ICU beds at the time and pressures on the NHS.
She continued: “Fast forward to the present day and I’ve had a second Cytoreductive surgery, as well as Chemotherapy at the RUH (Bath) three times, taking six months each time. Despite this, I still have cancer and I have reached the point where there are no more treatment options available in the UK.
“I have contacted every specialist hospital and referred myself for every possible clinical trial, with no success.
“Through a Facebook support group, I found out about a treatment called PIPAC which is used successfully to treat my form of cancer in several countries around the world. Unfortunately, it is not available in the UK.
“PIPAC is essentially a keyhole surgery where pressurised aerosol chemotherapy is sprayed directly into my abdomen. I have been in contact with Dr Cortes Guiral at the Santa Elena Hospital in Madrid, Spain, who has reviewed my case. She has said that I would need at least three PIPAC treatments, four weeks apart. I may also need some other procedures to make the PIPAC more effective.
“This is the best chance I have of getting rid of the cancer that I have been battling for over five years. I’m determined to beat this!”
Jenny’s determination and motivation to seek the best help possible is only too inspiring, however, travelling overseas for a rare cancer treatment is extremely expensive, so reaching out for help is the families’ only option.
Explaining the cost implications linked to the treatment, which will cost at least £40,000, Jenny said: “First I will need a diagnostic Laparoscopy, which costs £3,800. This will enable the surgeon to see exactly where all my tumours are located, and how much scar tissue I have from my previous surgeries.
“Then each PIPAC treatment will cost £9,500- and I will need at least three.
“If I need other types of treatment while I’m there, these will be at an additional cost. I will be in Spain for six days each time, so there will also be a lot of travel and accommodation costs.
“I am so grateful to everyone who has donated and shared my story so far. I am overwhelmed with people’s generosity, kindness and words of support. I hope that we can continue raising money to hit our target.”