| 11.2°C Belfast

Paramedic with months to live set to marry ahead of final therapy


Paramedic Kath Osmond and her partner Sara Coburn at their home in Newton Abbot, Devon

Paramedic Kath Osmond and her partner Sara Coburn at their home in Newton Abbot, Devon

Paramedic Kath Osmond and her partner Sara Coburn at their home in Newton Abbot, Devon

A paramedic who has been given just months to live is preparing to marry ahead of trying one last treatment.

Kath Osmond, 40, has an aggressive form of malignant melanoma which has now spread to her lung , bones and lymphatic system.

Other paramedics have helped raise £70,000 for her to try a therapy not available on the NHS but which could have a dramatic effect.

But before she undergoes the treatment, she is determined to marry her partner, Sara Coburn, 36, attended by Ms Coburn's three young children.

Ms Osmond, who has been a paramedic for the South Western Ambulance Service for around 14 years, has planned her wedding and funeral in the same year.

She said: "We're really excited about getting married next week.

"The plan is that if I get through treatment, we'll then have a blessing and a big wedding party in November time.

"The kids would love to go to Disneyland, it would be nice to aim for something like that."

Ms Osmond, who lives in Newton Abbott in Devon, has stage IV malignant melanoma.

"Around five years ago I noticed a mole on the back of my leg, i t was being irritated by my ambulance uniform," she said.

"I was s ent to the dermatology team who took it off and said 'we'll speak to you in two weeks'.

"About four weeks later they called to say 'come in we want to have a chat to you'. I knew then that something was wrong."

The mole was less than 1mm across and, although malignant, there was a 98% chance cancer would never come back.

But 18 months later, Ms Osmond noticed a lump in her groin and tests showed the melanoma had spread.

She also tested positive for BRAF - a gene that is faulty in more than half of all malignant melanomas - which makes the cancer more aggressive.

She took the drugs dabrafenib and trametinib, but four months later a scan showed the cancer had spread throughout her abdomen and pelvis.

Further treatment with ipilimumab and pembrolizumab also failed and, l ast October, Ms Osmond began to feel extremely tired.

"I had a significant progressive scan in December," she said.

"It was in my bones, lung, had spread significantly throughout my lymphatic system, plus there were tumours popping up under the skin.

" I was a bit like an allotment, the tumours were popping up all over the place."

Ms Osmond heard about tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), which has had an incredible effect in some melanoma patients, with around one in five becoming free of the disease.

It is available in the private wing of the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

The procedure involves removing some of a patient's own immune-system cells, growing them in the laboratory, and infusing the cultured cells into the patient where they can attack tumours.

A campaign has raised the £70,000 Ms Osmond needs, although she is hoping to raise more in case she requires a longer hospital stay.

She also wants to be able to help other cancer patients.

She said: " TILs is my only option now.

"Without it, my option is palliative chemotherapy, which will extend my life by a couple of months.

"I've been told I've got several short months to live."

Ms Osmond said she had managed to deal with her prognosis by trying not to think too much about it.

"As a paramedic, you're used to blocking things out and getting on with it. In a way that comes in handy," she said.

"We've obviously thought of what could happen - we've made arrangements for a funeral and I've made wills.

"I've also booked a place in a hospice so that if I deteriorate quickly, I can go there so the children have their own space to come away again."

The wedding to Ms Coburn is on June 23, and will be attended by friends, family and Ms Coburn's children, two girls aged eight and six, and a four-year-old boy.