Joanne Ryan says her only hope is ‘gamma knife’ treatment unavailable from National Health Service
A newly-wed Irishwoman in Swindon, fighting stage four terminal cancer, has appealed for urgent help that may save her life and let her grow old with her new husband.
Joanne Ryan, from Park North in Swindon, tied the knot with her long-term partner, Andy, last month, just days after discovering she is suffering from incurable breast cancer.
Joanne, whose parents, Tommy and Breda, hailed from Co. Galway and Co. Kildare respectively, is battling the disease for a third time and can no longer receive treatment on the NHS. She therefore decided to bring her wedding forward and, with the help of family and friends, managed to organise a perfect occasion at very short notice.
In a tribute to her Irish heritage, she wore a pale blue dress, something which is also in keeping with the ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ custom. Andy produced an adapted reading from Blessing of the Hands and a wedding party was held at Wiltshire restaurant ‘Sign of the Angel’.
“I said to Andy, we were supposed to have a happy ending and we deserve a happy ending. I told him we were getting married that weekend. He was as up for it as I was,” said Joanne. “It was incredibly emotional, and it was the best day of my life. When [photographer] Steffen was snapping away, I felt like a movie star. And everyone should get the chance to feel that way.
“It was the perfect day, the best day of my life. I felt like a little star and when you’re going through cancer treatment that is so important.
“We made a lot of very happy memories; the wedding video is about making memories, which will be crucial especially for Andy when I am gone.”
Joanne was first diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013. She underwent a lumpectomy operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and believed herself “cured”.
However, three years later, the cancer returned. She required a radical mastectomy but couldn’t believe that she had beaten it for a second time. Six weeks after her latest operation, a scan revealed that the cancer had spread to her lung and she was told that she was now at stage four.
She credits her optimistic, positive nature as being able to get through the darker times, something she inherited from her parents. She recalled how her mother would regularly tell her “open your eyes each morning, smile, love and go on”.
This is something she has continued to do throughout her life and she is adopting the attitude once more in a bid to raise more awareness of breast cancer.
She is also looking to hopefully collect funds for potentially life-saving gamma knife treatment for herself and others facing stage four.
This private treatment costs £18,000 and she has set-up a Just Giving page to help with the fundraising process.
Joanne’s final goal is to “grow old disgracefully” with Andy, but she is incredibly happy that she got to share such a special day with the man who has stood by her throughout her treatments.
• For more information about her story, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/joanne-ryan