September 27th, 2016

Stage 4 cancer but thanks to her friends, brave Gabrielle, from Alcester, is fighting back

Updated: 9:30 am, Aug 15, 2016

CANCER survivor Gabrielle Starkey knows the value of true friendship as her friends rally round to pay for her life saving treatment.

The Redditch and Alcester Standard revealed last week how friends Tori Rushton and Phillipa Capel are preparing to ride from Alcester to Paris and back in just eight days in a bid to raise £5,000 for Gabby’s treatment. They set off on August 20.

“There’s a saying about going the extra mile but these two are going the extra 1,000km and I just feel incredibly humbled by their efforts,” she said.

Gabby, who grew up in Alcester, first developed breast cancer in 2008 when she was living in London.

“It was just after my son’s third birthday and I moved back to Alcester to be nearer my mum and sister,” she said.

“I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and it went away until 2010 when it came back in the scar tissue from the mastectomy, so there was more chemotherapy.

“When it went away again I started up my own business but had to sell it in 2014 when the cancer came back, this time in my liver and spine.”

By this time the cancer had reached Stage 4 (incurable) but Gabby was unbowed.

“There’s not a lot of research done into Stage 4 cancer, people seem to think you should just go to the hospice, but I was interested in alternative therapies and heard of dendritic cell vaccine therapy in Germany as a friend was undergoing it.”

The treatment, at £4,000 a time, is not available on the NHS but with a little help from her friends, Gabby is half way through a course at a clinic in Duderstatdt.

It involves taking the dendritic cells from white blood cells, which boost the immune system and, in Gabby’s words ‘giving them a kick up the arse’.

“People with Stage 4 cancer are given roughly a few months to five years and I thought ‘no way’ and at the clinic I have met people who have survived 15 years and they have people there who have been 20 years in remission,” she said.

However, she did sound a note of caution: “Unfortunately the treatment doesn’t work for everyone, it didn’t for my friend – it’s not a magic bullet.

“I’m very much aware of the fact that there are no guarantees in life and I’m just grateful for what I’ve got, for my friends and I’ll carry on for as long as I can.”