Lorraine Hartley, a caring, popular and very well-known face in the horticultural industry, has been given only six months to live after the diagnosis of stage 4-5 lung cancer in March 2020 spread into her spinal cord, ribs, lymph nodes, and the most recent find of eight tumours in her brain. Now, Lorraine’s husband, David Topping, has set up a fundraising page to help raise funds to pro-long Lorraine’s life. Please see here: Fundraiser by David Topping : Help save Lorraine Hartley (gofundme.com)
The heart-breaking news was given to Lorraine and her husband when she was 26 weeks pregnant with her second child, Henry. Henry has been born, and Lorraine’s husband David has said he is growing into a “lovely bouncy little toddler.”
Before the brain tumour diagnosis, Lorraine had been taking drug Afatinib to fight the cancer, and Denosunab to help grow back the lost bone matter from her spine. Continuing to take Afatinib for 18 months, Lorraine was experiencing good results. David described that the couple were finally feeling “hopeful of beating it”.
But in June of 2021, Lorraine started getting some new symptoms of numbness in her right hand, which began to spread up her arm. A brain scan was ordered, and it resulted in the discovery of eight tumours around and in the lining of the brain.
A brain biopsy, performed on October 1 2021, showed doctors that the cancer in the brain is the same as the original cancer in the lungs. David said: “The targeted drug therapy that was very effective in the body unfortunately does not pass into the brain very effectively. It is unable to treat the tumours present there.”
However, there is a newer drug available called Osimertinib, which would be able to treat Lorraine’s mutation in the same way Afatinib did, as well as other variants of her mutation. This drug is also known for good transmission to the brain.
But, Osimertinib though available on the NHS, is only prescriptible if you have one of the additional variants of her mutation.
David said: “Despite it being the ideal drug for her to move on to as it will treat her type of cancer and pass into the brain, Lorraine’s oncologist can’t prescribe it because of this technicality.”
Funding pleas to the board on the NHS have been made, but the couple have been told they are very unlikely to be approved. David said: “also, a plea for compassionate supply from the manufacturer has not yet been approved. We await replies from them in hope.”
The needed drug, Osimertinib, is very expensive to buy – at approximately £8,424 per monthly cycle (30 pills).
David has set up a fundraising page which aims to raise funds that will cover Lorraine for a year’s supply of this drug. This would cost £110,000. He added: “Lorraine needs to start this drug as soon as possible as she is at risk of seizure, a stroke, and her physical and neurological symptoms slowly getting worse every day.”
David explained that although taking this drug might not save her life indefinitely, it will be the best way for her to have a lot more time with her family who she loves so much.
“Lorraine wants to see Arthur start school and grow into a young boy. She wants to see Henry hit some more milestones as he grows up. She desperately wants to be able to walk again as the cancer has now taken sensation from her right leg also. This drug can help achieve all that.”
Please donate here: Fundraiser by David Topping : Help save Lorraine Hartley (gofundme.com) and help save Lorraine.
In 2013, Lorraine, then of Provender nurseries, was one of the support crew for the three Peaks Extreme (3PE) challenge, an event which saw 13 intrepid landscape industry professionals climb 3 of the UK’s highest mountains, and raise raising thousands for the Green Fingers Charity.
The 3PE team consisting of Rob Crowder, Brian Herbert, Richard Gardiner, Jim Brasier, Paul Downer, Darren Skidmore, Matt O’Conner, Mark Gregory, Liz Hughes, Paul Cowell, John Wyer, Ed Belderbos, and Tim Winterburn, have all come together to help raise awareness and funds for Lorraine. The team have walked, ran, recycled, and even paddle boarded around Europe, to write Lorraine’s name on Strava. The team of former colleagues at Provender Nurseries added a heart and with more participants than letters in her name, kisses were added.