A Warwick mum has embarked on a £50,000 fundraising drive to help her fight the progression of her Multiple Sclerosis.
Catherine Cook, who has three young children, was diagnosed with MS in 2000 when she was in her early 30s.
Now Catherine is trying to raise £50,000 so that she can have a course of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), which could reverse the effects of her condition.
“It was a massive decision to make this public”, said Catherine.
“I am quite a private person but the only way I can change my life is to do something out of my comfort zone.
“I am trying to change mine and my family’s lives. MS is causing me lots of problems, including pain and exhaustion on a daily basis meaning that I can’t join in with a lot of family activities.
“I have to plan everything in advance to ensure I get enough rest.
“I have three young children and they often go out on weekends with their dad and I just wave them off at the door because my fatigue is quite extreme and I need to rest a lot during the day.
“I want to get my life back so I can be the mum my children need me to be.
“With MS I am constantly declining so the sooner I have the HSCT treatment the better.
“It’s successful in 70 per cent of cases and I want to be in that 70 per cent.”
Explaining the treatment Catherine said: “HSCT is the only known medical treatment that has halted the progression of MS for the majority of patients who have gone through it. It’s a chemotherapy-based treatment which removes your immune system and reboots it using your own harvested stem cells.
“It’s not available as a standard treatment on the NHS; either you have to be part of a medical study or be one of the most extreme people suffering from MS.
“It’s offered at in Pueblo, Mexico and I’m asking for help to fund my treatment and after care.
“It isn’t risk-free and it’s a harsh treatment to endure. But almost 700 people have been treated in Mexico including BBC News correspondent Caroline Wyatt.
“I feel like my hand has been forced to go to Mexico. It could be years before the treatment could be completely rolled out on the NHS.”
Catherine, who is a member of Coten End Parent Teacher Association (PTA), has been holding regular fundraising events and has received a lot of support with her fundraising.
She said: “So far I have raised around £9,500. People have been amazingly generous. I still have a long way to go but it’s a great start. My friends at Coten End PTA help me a lot with fundraising ideas. My husband has also been great, I couldn’t this without him.”
Catherine is holding a fundraising ball at the Court House in Warwick on October 12 and currently has an online auction which ends tomorrow (Saturday).
To donate, buy ball tickets or to bid in the auction click here