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Cancer-hit gran Karen McGrath (46) in marriage vow as she bids to raise £25k for US treatment

By Cate McCurry

Published 22/01/2016

Karen McGrath is terminally ill
Karen McGrath is terminally ill
Wedding plans: Karen and partner Chris Carlin

A mother who has been given just months to live has vowed to marry the love of her life, even if it is only for a day.

Karen McGrath from Co Tyrone has launched an online appeal to raise £25,000 to pay for potentially life-saving treatment in America that is not available in the UK.

The 46-year-old from Coalisland, a mother-of-two and grandmother-of-three, hopes to marry long-term partner Chris Carlin.

She has raised almost £4,000 in under 24 hours but still has a long way to go to raise enough money to pay for the treatment.

Karen was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in January last year after suffering from a persistent cough she could not shift and finding herself constantly breathless.

She underwent a gruelling ordeal of radiotherapy - 44 times in just three weeks - as well as a course of chemotherapy.

"They found a tumour of approximately 10cm in my right lung," she said. "At that stage I was advised all was going well and the tumour was shrinking.

"But I started to develop a pain in my right shoulder, and after X-rays I found out that the cancer had spread to my collar bone.

"I then had another five sessions of radiotherapy, however, after completing this things took a massive turn for the worst."

It was during a routine check-up last month that she was told the cancer spread to her other lung, liver, bones and lymph nodes and that her prognosis was terminal.

Now Karen is undergoing another gruelling round of chemotherapy in a bid to help her buy some more time.

"I am only a young woman and I'm not ready to leave my family and my young grandchildren," she said.

"I need help to raise this money to allow me to go to America to receive life-saving treatment. The treatment is not available in the UK or Ireland.

"This is not something I thought I would ever have to do in my life, but as each day passes I'm getting sicker and sicker and I am hardly able to get about without assistance.

"I don't want to die without seeing my little grandchildren growing up."

Karen faces another two rounds of chemotherapy, but her family fears she may not be fit enough to get through them.

She and her fiancé, who she has been engaged to for four years, have had to postpone their wedding because of her rapidly declining health.

The anxious mum, whose children are aged 29 and 25, said: "We have to try and do something as it's very difficult.

"I have no other option as this is life-saving treatment. But we have to see if I can receive the next two rounds of chemotherapy and then we will go after. If not, we will go right away.

"We will be getting married, even only if it's for a day. Hopefully, the doctors can make that as long as possible and hopefully we can make this happen."

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