At a time when she should have been celebrating her 21st birthday, Lancaster student Amanda Sackville-Wiggins was given the devastating news that she had a rare form of liver cancer.
Amanda was diagnosed with fibrolamellar (hepatocellular carcinoma) just two days after her birthday .
The cancer – which affects one in every five million people or just 200 people worldwide every year – has already spread to her lungs and lymph nodes.
The disease was discovered after Amanda went to her GP complaining of stomach pains.
She was referred for blood tests and a scan which identified the cancer.
Amanda, who has a twin sister Rhiannon, has since had a liver biopsy for genetic testing, although it is believed the cancer is an anomaly.
However, Amanda has been told that the form of cancer she has is not treatable on the NHS.
Her doctors initially applied for her to be given access to a form of immunotherapy called nivolumab.
This drug would help ‘super charge’ her immune system to fight back against the cancer.
But unfortunately, the application was turned down.
The treatment is only available for Amanda if she and her family are able to raise the £80,000 a year it would cost – and they are now appealing to the community in Lancaster to help.
Amanda, who also has three older siblings, grew up in Howgill Avenue on Beaumont, where her mum Pat still lives.
She went to St Joseph’s Primary School and Our Lady’s Catholic College before heading to Liverpool John Moores University, where she is close to completing a degree in animal behaviour.
She hopes to follow this up with a Masters before going into animal science and research work.
“Lancaster is where she was born and grew up; it’s her home,” mum Pat, 65, said.
“There’s no guarantee the treatment will work because everyone is different but we have to try.
“Amanda is a fighter.”
Amanda’s twin Rhiannon is helping with the fundraising from her home in St Helens, while school friend Erin McKnight is also assisting from London along with other friends.
On her fundraising page, Amanda’s boyfriend Sam Bishop said: “We would like to ask you to help Amanda. She is described by many as an amazing, thoughtful and kind-hearted young woman, someone who doesn’t deserve any of what has happened.
“By donating to this fundraising campaign, you are not only giving her the chance to secure what her doctors feel will be her best course of treatment, you will also be helping to further our understanding of an extremely rare form of cancer that predominantly affects children and young adults.
“Amanda is not only an extremely talented young woman, she’s also the kindest person I’ve ever met.
“She enjoys her academic studies in multiple aspects of natural science, including genetics, ecology and zoology.
“When she isn’t studying she works part-time at a local branch of Tesco.
“She is one of the cheeriest and most pleasant shopping assistants you would wish to help you.
“Outside of work, Amanda enjoys crocheting, reading and spending time with her friends, all of whom hold her in high regard.
“She has an ambitious attitude that focuses her mind on a task and enables her to complete it at the highest standard she can muster; more recently, including her driving examination which she has persevered with, accepting nothing but a pass.
“One of her most impressive feats has been completing her university degree in animal behaviour. She will graduate in July with her prized BSc.
“Amanda aimed to continue in the world of science and undertake a Masters degree, progressing further within science and research, but due to recent circumstances this has unfortunately had to be put on hold.
“This hasn’t deterred Amanda in the slightest. Her mind is set on returning to her passion for the natural world and science within the next year.
“Amanda has a high regard for her community. She is constantly looking for ways to give something back, to help improve the world around us so as many people as possible can benefit.
“Such actions include taking part in multiple charity events such as the Lancaster Moonlight Walk, raising money for local animal rescue shelters, beach cleans and litter picking along the Sefton coast, and participating in a Colour Run in aid of St John’s Hospice.
“As a teenager, Amanda was part of a youth forum in Lancaster, which worked with local organisations to try and improve not only the area she lived in, but various residential areas around Lancaster.
“Amanda remains strong and intends to keep going with everyday life as best she can.
“Not only is it amazing to see how courageous she is, but her story also acts as a good lesson to the rest of us.
“She remains level-headed and does not let things get her down. She inspires hope and happiness in us all.
“Her warm, kind and compassionate nature has made us all want to give something back to her; to repay a little for everything she has already done for others.
“Not only for her friends and family, but for the countless other lives she has so positively impacted.”
Anyone who wishes to help can donate here
A fundraising page is also being set up on Facebook.
The family is currently looking for a suitable location in Lancaster to host a family fun day, as well as for people and businesses who can donate raffle prizes.