Belfast Telegraph

Terminally ill Northern Ireland nurse Joanne vows to help search for blood cancer cure

By Lisa Smyth

A Co Down woman has pledged her support for efforts to find a cure for blood cancer after finding out she is dying from the disease.

Brave Joanne McCawley is speaking out about her fight for life in support of Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI's blood cancer awareness campaign - despite being told last month that her condition is now terminal.

The 32-year-old surgical nurse from Drumaness is now more determined than ever to support the charity in its search for a cure - which will sadly come too late to save her life.

Joanne had hoped she would be among the 75% of people who beat the disease, but was told last month that it had returned and doctors could only offer palliative care. She opted not to have any more treatment and chose to make the most of the time she has left and help the fundraising drive for more research.

Joanne was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia towards the end of 2015.

It was a heavy blow - Joanne was 29 at the time, had recently married her husband, Jason, and found out she was pregnant.

"As soon as I heard the results, I knew that my anaemia wasn't caused by the pregnancy, it was too severe," she said. "It took weeks to confirm the cause, but eventually I received a call to say I had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia."

She quickly started treatment but was dealt another blow after her first bout of chemotherapy, when she suffered a miscarriage. It later turned out that the treatment had been unsuccessful.

However, a second round of chemotherapy combined with a bone marrow transplant helped her into remission.

But last month, after only a year free from illness, Joanne began to feel unwell. She quickly learned that her blood cancer had returned.

Despite this, she wanted to remain a part of the campaign and share her story.

She explained: "My recent diagnosis has only increased my determination to help raise awareness of blood cancer and the importance of continuing to fund research.

"My own story shows how up and down, how powerful this disease is and how it throws curveballs, but we just have to give it our best shot.

"You just keep fighting on - that's all you can do."

Visit www.leukaemiaandlymphomani.org for more information, or to support the charity's work, go to www.justgiving.com/nilrf

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