Woman hit with rare two in a million cancer has seven organs removed in bid to survive

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It was January of last year when Jackie, a Leeds woman originally from New Zealand, was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, a cancer which affects just 1-2 people in a million

A woman who received a devastating diagnosis of a rare appendix cancer and subsequently had seven organs removed, is looking forward to the future after having “the mother of all surgeries”.

It was January of last year when Jackie, a Leeds woman originally from New Zealand, was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, (PMP).

The cancer affects just 1-2 people in a million, and the operation to remove it is so specialised that only two hospitals in the UK can do it.

Jackie, or ‘Jax’’ operation involved the removal of seven organs.

A little more than a year later, her husband Oliver Beckett, a Yorkshire legal specialist, plans to undertake a gruelling 600-mile cycle ride across Europe to raise £10,000 for the Manchester hospital which saved his wife’s life. Already more than £5,000 has been raised.

Oliver, 34, who works for Stowe Family Law in Harrogate, is extending a heartfelt thank you to Christie Hospital, Manchester, who undertook a complex eight-hour operation to remove the cancer from his wife.

Oliver is planning to cycle the 600 miles in six days, starting from his home in Chapel Allerton and finishing in Copenhagen, in April.

“I cannot thank Christies enough for saving Jackie’s life,” Oliver said.

“With Jackie’s bravery and superhuman powers of recovery and Christie’s care, we were so lucky to celebrate this Christmas with our family, cancer-free and 90 per cent of the way back to full health.

“I couldn’t be prouder of her and have no way of properly repaying the awe-inspiring team at The Christie.”

Jackie’s first symptoms were pain in her abdomen.

She had her first ultrasound scan the day after Oliver’s birthday in November 2020 and it came as an enormous shock that it looked like a 13cm tumour near her ovary.

Oliver says her GP was particularly surprised by the scan results as her blood tests weren’t abnormal.

He said: “In early February 2020 Jax went in for surgery on an ovarian cyst, we’re in huge debt to the surgeon who spotted that the tumour seemed to originate from the appendix.

“He referred us to The Christie with suspected PMP, which is only treated at The Christie in Manchester or the Basingstoke hospital due to the nature of the specialist surgery.

“PMP is quite a slow-growing, mucinous cancer so it’s hard to say if left undetected how quickly the cancer would have grown but it’s fair to say that she caught it early before it had the chance to spread which means she’s been able to return back to full health, whereas many others aren’t so lucky.

“The mucin is best described as being like a jelly, and it can spread within the abdominal cavity to many vital organs from the diaphragm down to the bowel and colon.

“The team at The Christie in Manchester were unbelievably caring, understanding, reassuring and we always felt like we were in exceptionally safe hands.”

The surgery for PMP generally ranges from 8-14 hours and involves removing any affected organs and then pumping hot chemotherapy around the abdomen for 90 minutes to kill any remaining cancer cells, this is called HIPEC and is the unique part of the surgery (hence only two hospitals that do this surgery).

Jackie’s lasted eight-and-a-half hours with the removal of seven organs.

Oliver added: “Her stay in hospital was quoted at 10-14 days but she smashed it in nine days and was told to expect six weeks off work but after six months until she was feeling back to normal – she was back at work in four and feeling back to 90 per cent within about three to four months.

“It’s fair to say that because of the care Jax has received at The Christie she’s fully recovered and her long-term prognosis is excellent.”

Jackie, an IT consultant for a Manchester-based IT Consultancy called Make Positive, said: “I owe so much to the team at The Christie, being a specialist cancer hospital was so reassuring, comforting and I knew I was in safe hands. Their care couldn’t have been better.”

“I’m so lucky that my diagnosis has been fully treated and a recurrence is unlikely, however, many people have a more serious prognosis. That’s why Oliver’s ride is so important to raise much-needed funds for clinical research.”

Oliver said: “I took delivery of my first road bike in September 2021 as a release from stress.

“I’m now planning this fundraising challenge, which will take me from Leeds to Hull, Rotterdam, Hamburg to Copenhagen with a couple of other stops on the way. I will be cycling roughly eight hours a day from April 9 to 14.

“I’m not what you’d call fit, so it’s going to be incredibly tough and a real challenge, but I didn’t think a ‘bake sale’ would have the same impact.

“The Christie has set up a charity fund for me where all donations go directly towards the clinical research to treat and cure PMP.

“I’m trying to raise as much money as possible, hopefully upwards of £10,000, and I’m appealing for sponsorship across Yorkshire and beyond. Ultimately we want to cure this disease.”

Although the couple now live in Chapel Allerton in north Leeds, Oliver grew up in Hull and he and Jackie met in Melbourne, Australia where they lived for seven years.

He added: “I’m appealing to companies to sponsor me in return for some branding on my cycling shirt and publicity, as well as individuals through my JustGiving page .