Laura Nuttall is 19 years-old from Barrowford, Lancashire, and after gaining straight A’s in her A-Levels, was offered a place at the prestigious Kings College London to study for an International Relations degree. Just weeks into her first term, she started to suffer from constant headaches and nausea. Initially putting it down to ‘fresher’s flu’ a visit to her GP advised her to monitor the situation.
Later, during her medical as part of her ambition to join the University’s branch of the Navy reserves, a routine eye revealed a number of abnormalities in her optic nerve, which sparked a chain of events that saw Laura eventually referred to a Neurologist.
In October 2018, Laura was found to have six brain tumours and was later diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme – described as ‘the most aggressive brain cancer’. With the prognosis having such a small window – 12 to 15 months (with less than 5% of people surviving longer than 5 years), Laura immediately put in place plans for her ‘bucket list’; a series of events that she has always wanted to do.
Laura’s diagnosis came after an initial operation to remove the largest of the tumours (described as ‘the size of a golf ball’) in November at Salford Royal Hospital. She since went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments at The Christie in Manchester throughout December in an effort to keep the remaining tumours in check. Soon, she will embark on a further six-month round of intensive chemotherapy to allow her more time.
To give their daughter a chance of a decent life, Laura’s parents have been researching and trialling a number of treatments. Unfortunately, the specific treatment that they have identified as having the best chance of extending Laura’s life has not yet been approved by the Department For Health – so Doing It For Laura aims to raise £150,000 in order to pay for this treatment, as well as to raise awareness of the condition (and the possible treatment) to the wider public.
The campaign has already had some success, with coverage from the BBC, the Daily Mail and the US People Magazine; her story and her positive approach to her illness touching the hearts of people worldwide.
What is Glioblastoma Multiforme?
The symptoms of Glioblastoma multiforme classically include headaches, changes in personality, nausea and other symptoms consistent with a stroke. They usually occur in adults over the age of 64, with men more likely to contract them than women.
Glioblastoma is ‘diffuse’, which means they spread quickly – they contain threadlike tendrils that extend into other parts of the brain. Unlike many other types of cancer, not much is known about why glioblastomas begin to grow. Research by charities and medical institutions has been focused on genes – what they do know is that there is nothing that anyone could do, or have avoiding doing, that would have caused to them to develop.
Doing It For Laura aims to raise money and awareness for a specific immunotherapy treatment called DCVax. A personalised immune therapy treatment, DCVax is made from the patient’s own dendritic cells (which help the immune system to recognise and attack tumour cells). Initial trials have been positive – with the treatment showing signs of being adept at extending the overall survival rates of patients with the same type of brain tumours.
How Can I Help?
If you would like to learn more about Laura’s story and to make a donation to Doing it For Laura, please visit the Go Fund Me page. For regular updates on the campaign, you can also like the Facebook page.