Race against time for Yorkshire mother fundraising for MS treatment in Mexico

Kate Dawson with her sons Sam and Josh
Kate Dawson with her sons Sam and Josh
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A MOTHER battling MS has launched an urgent fundraising appeal to enable her to have pioneering treatment in Mexico.

Kate Dawson, from Ackworth, near Pontefract, needs to raise £45,000 to undergo a stem cell transplant next month in a bid to halt the progression of the disease.

The 41-year-old said: “I am determined not to keep progressing on the downhill.

“The doctor just drew a graph and said ‘that’s the way you’re going to be going’.

“I don’t want to just accept it. Having MS is like a life sentence because you don’t improve.”

Mrs Dawson was a keen runner and qualified fitness instructor when at the age of 35, she kept tripping up when running.

At hospital, she underwent scans and lesions were found on her spine – a sign of multiple sclerosis, or MS.

The condition affects the central nervous system, damaging the coating around nerve fibres and causing a range of symptoms.

The disease has now affected her mobility badly, and left her with other health issues which mean she’s had to give up her job as a teacher at Ackworth School.

“Prior to MS I had always loved the outdoors and sport was my life,” she said.

“Now my balance has gone and I hobble round my house. Each morning, you don’t know how you’re going to be or what’s going to be the problem.

“It could be anything – you might wake up and your arm won’t work.”

Her illness has had a massive impact on her husband Rob and their sons Sam, 15, and 13-year-old Josh.

“That’s the most painful thing – I can’t go out and see them play sport or do things with them,” she added.

“This, along with missing out on fun days out with my family, is absolutely heartbreaking for me.

“I want my kids to grow up with an active family. Not being mobile is starting to break me and I don’t want it to.”

There is no cure for MS and the NHS hasn’t been able to offer Kate, who has the more advanced secondary progressive form of the disease, any treatment.

After researching for herself, she found the stem cell treatment HSCT which has been used with success in the majority of MS patients.

It involves carrying out a stem cell transplant using her own cells, which are transferred back into her body to ‘reboot’ the immune system.

HSCT is only available in the UK through clinical trials, though research carried out in Sheffield earlier this year reported “remarkable results” for some patients.

Kate discovered a clinic in Mexico which offers the treatment, though it has an 18-month waiting list.

“The problem is that I can’t wait. Even if it came to the UK in 18 months, I could be in a wheelchair by then,” she said.

Earlier this month she was told there had been a cancellation and she could start treatment on June 20, so she desperately needs to raise the £45,000 cost.

The gruelling month-long procedure, which also involves chemotherapy to knock out her immune system, costs £40,000 while a further £5,000 is needed for treatment back in the UK.

An online donation page has collected almost £5,000, while colleagues and pupils at Ackworth School are fundraising.

“I only have a month to raise the funds but I can’t afford to wait as each week my condition is worsening and following a recent MRI scan I have several more lesions on my spine and brain,” she said.

“MS is a cruel disease as it takes your life away from you bit by bit.

“I want to be able to see my children take part in activities throughout their life and I want to take them on the holidays I’d always dreamt we would go on together.

“I want to support my wonderful husband and loving parents instead of giving them all so much worry about me.”

* Donate via https://www.gofundme.com/24cdh4c or visit www.facebook.com/helpkategetridofMS.