WHEN Brooke Arnot went to her doctor suffering with chronic back pain, she assumed it was related to her recent pregnancy. Instead, she was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer only weeks before her daughter’s first birthday.
Now the 34-year-old is pledging to continue an experimental treatment in Mexico to make a full recovery so she can watch her baby daughter, Zahra, grow up.
The pioneering concept combines traditional cancer treatment alongside alternative medication. Brooke undergoes an experimental blood test which reportedly identifies the best treatment or chemotherapy agent. Brooke’s friends have raised nearly £30,000 to fund the treatment in Mexico, which is not available on the NHS. It is claimed that the Research Genetic Cancer Centre (RGCC) treatment has eradicated the disease for up to 80 people.
Now, Brooke’s loved ones are desperately looking to tally up another £15,000 to meet rapidly escalating costs.
Brooke, from Danderhall, said: “My friends have been great. They were pushing and looking to help from the start.
“They said ‘let’s do this’ and I was worried it wouldn’t work. We thought we’d afford it ourselves, but costs have escalated so much.”
Brooke, who has been living in Australia for the last six years due to work commitments, was still breastfeeding Zahra when she received the shock diagnosis.
Suspecting a slipped disc, she asked for an extra copy of her scan for her chiropractor at her check-up. The scan showed a tumour in her bowel.
She flew back home to Scotland with Zahra upon hearing the news, but then had to leave her behind to undergo treatment in Tijuana, Mexico, that could last up to eight weeks.
“It’s been so hard,” said Brooke. “I’d been working from home in Australia and hadn’t left her for a full day at all.
“Over here, I FaceTime her every morning and just before she goes to bed.
“When I first found out, I just had to get home. The Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre have been particularly amazing. I was able to use their hyperbaric oxygen chambers, which really help you detox.”
Brooke is undergoing treatment for at least the next six weeks and waiting on results from her initial scans. She said the end goal is to reach what doctors call “non-existent disease”.
At time of writing, 461 people have donated to her fundraising campaign, which aims to raise money for the more intense stage of her treatment.
Her long-time friend Chloe Riding said: “We are so humbled by the support Brooke has received so far and just hope that she recovers quickly so we can keep one of the best souls I know around for a long time.
“Brooke is a little pocket rocket, a real bundle of energy and fun. She’s also the only person I know who will cry at the airport even if you’re only not going to see each other for a few weeks.
“Her family and friends mean the world to her and she would do anything for the people she cares about. Right now she knows her baby girl needs her mum, and so she’s fighting the best she can to get better.”
Brooke is raising awareness because she had “no symptoms other than back pain and fatigue” and was the first member of her family to be diagnosed with the disease.
The five year relative survival rate is approximately 60 per cent for both sexes, but this drops to 10 per cent for those suffering at stage four.
Claire Donaghy, head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Bowel cancer is the country’s second biggest cancer killer, however, it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. “Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops.”
To support the campaign, visit the fundraising page.