APPEALS: I HAVE ALL OF THESE HEALTH ISSUES, BUT STILL I FIGHT!
A wife and mother of two has joined forces with leading blood cancer charity ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) to raise awareness on her story in the hope it might help save her life.
Antoinette Carr, 47, is of Jamaican/Nigerian heritage residing in North London with her husband and two children aged 14 and 10.
Antoinette was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma 9 years ago. She recalls: “I received my official diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma in 2011. I was told that myeloma is a blood cancer – for which there is no known cure. The only treatment they could provide me was to ‘put it to sleep’ for as long as possible, however I am hoping a cure will be found in my lifetime.”
Antoinette initially visited her GP as she was feeling extremely tired. At the time her son was still a baby and she was on maternity leave, so she assumed she was potentially experiencing post-natal depression. It took a series of blood test results to come through which led Antoinette to be referred to the oncology departments within a few days.
Antoinette adds: “I sat in the waiting room looking at posters about cancer thinking, ‘I hope I don’t have cancer – Nah that wouldn’t happen to me’. Then the penny dropped when my doctor mentioned me needing to have a bone marrow biopsy.”
Over the years Antoinette has received four lines of treatment including, an autologous stem cell transplant (a procedure where her own stem cells are removed from her bone marrow or peripheral blood and then re-transplanted back into her). However, if doctor’s are to put the incurable illness into a state of remission Antoinette will need to receive an allogeneic transplant (a transplant from a matched donor). Unfortunately, despite an initial search on the world wide stem cell registry by her hospital, a match has sadly not been found.
Antoinette adds: “I am currently on Cycle 17 of chemotherapy. At the moment they are trying to keep my cancer cells stable (put them to sleep). Unfortunately my paraproteins (cancer cells) are rising and recently I have been informed that due to complications with a clinical trial I had been signposted to go on, it will no longer be available.
I previously had an autologous transplant using my own cells about five years ago but this was unsuccessful. I have been told that I will need to have a matched donor transplant.”
ACLT co-founder Beverley De-Gale says: “All previous treatments and the transplant using Antoinette’s own stem cells, have failed because the myeloma is persistent and is tuning itself into the various treatments she has received. Antoinette’s best chance of survival is to receive a double transplant – autologous (using her own stem cells) and a stem cell transplant from a matched donor and so our journey with her begins. We are encouraging people reading her story today particularly those of Nigerian and Jamaican heritage, to consider joining the stem cell register in the hope they may be the lifesaving matched donor she needs.”
Antoinette ends: “I also have chronic fatigue syndrome, low brain pressure because of a hole in my spine causing me to lose fluid and immune deficiency all due to the myeloma. BUT! Still, I fight!”
For more information on how to join the UK Stem Cell Register, please click here