A campaign has been launched to find treatment for a U.K. mother diagnosed with two terminal illnesses. She is thought to be the only person in the world to have both diseases.
Only one hope remains for 36-year-old Jo Smith, from Exeter, who was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer just months after being found with another deadly disease, pulmonary hypertension. The new mom was found to suffer from the rare heart and lung disease less than a year after giving birth to her son Rudey, now three.
The double curse leaves Smith with few options. She cannot undergo radiotherapy for her cancer, because doctors say that it would kill her due to the pulmonary hypertension.
“The doctors weren’t expecting this, and I wasn’t expecting to hear this,” said Smith.
“I’ve always been quite a positive person. I’ve never let it impact on my life, but it’s becoming impossible now — it’s starting to affect everything I do."
“It’s devastating, but I have to deal with it. I have little Rudey to take care of. He takes my mind off things.”
Smith now barely has the energy to pick up her son. She underwent an operation hoping it would help slow her PH, but it only made her exhaustion worse.
“We hoped the operation would at least have had some sort of positive impact on my PH,” she said. “But if anything, the impact of such a massive operation made it worse.”
A doctor in Thailand is pioneering a new type of immunotherapy treatment that could both cure the cancer and stop the PH form advancing. Smith’s best friend, Sarah Lacey, began the “Breathe for Jo” campaign to raise the requisite £30,000 (about $50,000) in 30 days.
Lacey is planning a “Breathe Fest” music festival with over a dozen bands from all over the country signed up to participate. Breathe Fest will take place in Exeter on Friday, July 11 and Saturday, July 12.