An Aberdeen cancer sufferer who hopes experimental treatment will save her life has raised more than £100,000.
Steph Roberts, from Cults, is attempting to raise money for the trial treatment which is expected to cost £22,000 per month.
The 33-year-old was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in July 2016.
Over the past 18 months, she has endured 24 sessions of chemotherapy, and surgery which removed 40% of her liver.
What originally started as stomach pains, led to an emergency operation, where doctors found a tumour blocking her bowel.
Then followed a worrying 10-day wait to find out if the tumour was cancerous before Steph received the worst news – not only did she have cancer, but the disease had spread to her liver and her lungs.
She said: “I was panicked. I felt like everything was out of my control.
“Your whole world just falls apart, you think the worst with cancer, it was just horrible.”
Following her operation she said the wait was excruciating.
She said: “Not knowing is almost as bad as the awful diagnosis.”
Steph, who lives with her fiance Richard Johnson, 33, credits him with “keeping her sane”.
“He was really strong and has been so supportive the entire time,” she said.
Accountant Steph, a former Cults Academy pupil, then embarked on a gruelling course of chemotherapy, sometimes lasting eight hours at a time.
Over 24 weeks, Steph endured 12 courses of chemo, which she described as “like swimming through treacle”.
She said: “I was having it fortnightly, so the first week you would feel bad and the second week you’d start to feel better.
“The worst part is how tired you are, you feel like you should be able to do what you used to be able to do, it’s just like everything seems to move a bit slower.
“You can’t really concentrate, you fall asleep in front of the TV at 7pm.
“It’s really frustrating, you feel like you should be able to do everything you used to, and you can’t.”
But following the chemo, scans showed that the cancer was still growing. Steph was offered what she described as a “maintenance drug” by her doctor, which would manage the cancer, but would not reduce it.
She said: “It’s something that my oncologist had hinted at, but not something I thought I would be offered so soon.
“It was terrifying that it wasn’t going to do anything, it was just going to slow it down a little bit.”
Being offered the maintenance drug only helped strengthen Steph’s resolve.
One of the doctors she had seen recommended the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in London for a second opinion.
She was “really excited” to be told of a trial that she may be eligible for.
“The doctor said that I would be a really good candidate for the trial, and it was really good having something that was an alternative to just a maintenance drug.”
The trial involved using three separate drugs to attack a gene mutation that caused cancer. It has been approved for other forms of the disease, but is still being trialled for bowel cancer.
However, in a further blow, Steph was informed in January she wouldn’t be eligible for the treatment, because she had been given one of the drugs before.
She said: “That was really devastating, it was a really low point.
“I felt like I was close, and then the option was taken away.”
Back to square one, Steph knew that she would have to somehow pay for the treatment herself.
That is when it was suggested she start a crowdfunding page.
Since it was launched last Monday more than £100,000 has been raised – with the aim of raising £150,000 in total for now.
“I was really nervous about doing it, but people have been so lovely in their response,” added Steph.
“It’s so hard to describe how nice it feels to have so much support from so many people. With the donations and the messages I’ve received, people have been so kind.
“It’s so surreal. It feels like it’s happening to someone else.”
Asked what she would like to say to those who have already supported her, Steph said: “I don’t even know how to put into words how grateful I am to the people who have supported me.
“I don’t even know how to thank people for what they’ve done.”
Steph, who now lives near Reading, credits the support from her friends and family with keeping her positive through her ordeal.
She said: “It’s just the little things they did.
“One of my friends went to every session of chemo with me to keep me company.
“She even tried to teach me to knit. I’m not a very good knitter but I’m giving it a try!”
An incredibly determined woman, Steph credits her support network with keeping her going.
She said: “I really can’t explain how much support I’ve had from my friends and family, they’ve really kept me positive, even when my thoughts were spiralling out of control.”