MOTHER of two Francine Sammut says words have not been invented to express her gratitude towards the Orange community.
In a matter of weeks, friends, colleagues and strangers have dug deep and raised about $17,000 for vital cancer treatment that will enable Mrs Sammut to fight on.
“We’re just blown away,” she said.
Mrs Sammut, a breast cancer sufferer, is the only woman in Orange to receive the treatment, a mixture of Kadcyla and Herceptin, and because it is a relatively new concoction it is not part of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
Initially the treatment cost about $17,500 but then the kind hearts of Orange stepped in.
A good friend of the family, Leanne Corcoran, set up a fundraiser page on the internet which had, as of Sunday, raised $15,639, and a former colleague of Mrs Sammut, Lisa Pearson, pledged to shave her head on July 12 and had already raised about $1000.
The money for both is still flowing in and several business around town have tins on counters to take donations.
“I never expected we’d raise that much, I didn’t really expect anything,” she said.
Mrs Sammut had her second round of treatment on Wednesday and said the side-effects such as headaches and sore muscles were unpleasant, but nowhere near as bad as the side-effects from traditional chemotherapy.
She said she chose the “designer drug’ because chemotherapy meant she would have been so sick her head “would have been in a bucket for two weeks out of three”, she would have lost her hair and would have missed out on time spent with her husband Brett and daughters Tegan, 6, and Emily, 10.
“There’s a lot of people going through financial hardship at the moment so we’re just really grateful"
“It’s the quality of life this drug gives you,” she said.
“I still need to be a mum, I have to cook dinner for them, wash their clothes, take them to school.”
Mrs Sammut was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. She spent time in Sydney for treatment, had chemotherapy and radiation therapy but the cancer returned in 2012.
The treatment she had been on stopped working in May and, sadly, the cancer started to fight back, which meant she had to change treatments.
Husband, Brett, said he was shocked that most donations were either given anonymously or were from people not known to the family.
“There’s a lot of people going through financial hardship at the moment so we’re just really grateful,” he said.
Recently Mr Sammut raised more than $10,000 for the McGrath Foundation by completing an indoor ironman event and Mrs Sammut had a vital role in putting together the 2012 McGrath Foundation Pink Ball.
“Maybe that’s why people are donating, if there is an event on in Orange we try to get behind it,” Mrs Sammut said.
The drug is not a cure but if it works it will give Mrs Sammut the gift of time, time spent with her family.
That gift is priceless.
The head shave will occur at noon on July 12 outside The Coffee Club and the website is www.gofundme.com/Francines-Fight.