Kind-hearted colleagues of a cancer sufferer have given up their Christmas gifts to pay £17,500 towards life-saving treatment.
Staff at automotive manufacturers ZF Peterlee have rallied round after fellow employee Liam Debbage was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer 16 months ago.
The Clear Cell Sarcoma is so rare that it only affects about 200 people in the world – and was discovered after the 31-year-old injured his shoulder playing squash.
After diagnosis, dad-of-two Liam was given the devastating news that there was no treatment available on the NHS and that he, his wife Michelle and their sons Oscar and Reece must prepare for the worst.
However, after researching the cancer, they found that a drug, Pembrolizumab, which is being used in clinical trials has proved effective in treating Clear Cell Sarcoma in the US.
A fundraising drive was started to reach the £30,000 needed to begin treatment, which reached £15,000.
I cannot put into words what this means to meLiam Debbage
Now ZF Peterlee has said it will donate the £16,000 it would have spent on staff gifts, topped up by an extra £1,500 from bosses.
Liam, who lives with Michelle in Murton, said: “I cannot put into words what this means to me. When they rang me to tell me the news, I broke down. I can now undergo treatment which could potentially help me beat this cancer.
“When I was diagnosed with Clear Cell Sarcoma, I didn’t know what to do as it was such a shock. I thought, how can I be so ill when I feel absolutely fine? And then to be told that my cancer is so rare that there was no treatment available on the NHS was an even bigger blow. The whole journey has been awful.
“Now I have hope and have been told that in a matter of a couple of weeks the treatment could start. Thank you to everyone at ZF Peterlee for making this possible.”
Liam’s Just Giving page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/liam-debbage