Given just six months, mum Lisa heads to US for treatment that could save her life
A mother-of-three who was given just six months to live is to travel to America tomorrow to begin potentially life-saving cancer treatment.
Lisa Toner from Co Tyrone, who launched an online campaign to raise £20,000 towards medical costs so she could travel to California, will face a gruelling three-month process that has a seven per cent success rate.
The 31-year-old was left facing the heartbreaking reality that she may never see her children grow up after she was given the news her illness was terminal.
The Coalisland woman was told that the only life-saving treatment available to her was in America, but it came at a high cost.
After she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013 - just 10 days after the birth of her third child - Lisa underwent a gruelling ordeal of daily radiotherapy and weekly chemotherapy for six weeks at the start of last year.
"Tough and sick as I felt, I had to go on for the little ones - they are my life, my reason to be here," she said. "In May I got results from a scan to say that the disease had cleared up, or so I thought."
Her routine six-month scan revealed the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, so almost a year on from her first nightmare she was facing her second.
Lisa explained: "This time they went at it full force - chemo once every three weeks, which made me sick and unable to look after the kids for at least a week after treatment, and six weeks of daily radiotherapy.
"A routine scan in April this year showed the cancer was responding and shrinking, which was a good sign."
But following a series of tests she was told the second round of treatment hadn't worked.
The cancer had spread to her pelvis and lung, and it was not looking good for the young mother. "What I am now facing is something I never thought I would have to at 30 years of age - my cancer is aggressive and I've been given six months," she said.
But family and friends are hoping that the treatment in America will change that outcome.
On Saturday they held a birthday party for her, and as a surprise they arranged a special video message from former Westlife singer Shane Filan.
He said: "Hi everybody, hi Lisa. I'm so sorry I can't be there tonight. I'm actually walking into my best friend's wedding at the moment. I would have loved to have been there. I hope you have a fantastic night and raise loads of money and I will see you all soon hopefully."
A fundraising night will be held on November 13 in Dungannon to help towards medical costs and her young family.
A close friend of Lisa's explained that she was in a lot of pain and would have to travel with an oxygen tank on the plane.
The young mum said she was devastated by the thought of leaving her three children Aaron (12), Ellie (10) and Daryl, who will be two next month.
"Everyone has told me not to worry and that he won't remember, but it's at the stage where he won't remember me at all if I die within six months," she added.
"At 30 years old I never imagined having to create memory boxes for my children so they would have something to remember me by."