A mother-of-three who found out she had incurable cancer six weeks after giving birth is hoping to complete her bucket list by marrying her partner.
Doctors broke the heart-breaking news that Sarah McAllister, 33, had stage four melanoma in May this year, just weeks after her baby son Albert was born.
Her first brush with the disease was two years ago, when surgeons removed a cancerous mole on her ear.
Tragically, it has now returned and spread to her brain, liver, lungs and spine.
“When I was told my cancer was back, I just went numb. It didn’t feel real,” said Miss McAllister, of Beccles in Suffolk.
“I wasn’t told it was incurable straight away, but I knew. As soon as they told me it how far it had spread, I knew.
“Doctors can’t tell me how much time I have left, so I’m just trying to make as many happy memories with my family as I can.
“Marrying my partner Lee Effemy, is top of that list. It’s always been a dream of ours and we decided almost immediately after my diagnosis to make it a reality.”
Sarah and her boyfriend Lee Effemy in 2010
Miss McAllister was first struck with cancer in 2013 whilst pregnant with her son Sid, now three.
She noticed a mole on her ear was growing in size and had become itchy and prone to bleeding.
After being referred to a dermatologist for further tests, it was revealed the mole was cancerous and would need to be removed – along with 2cm of her ear and her lymph nodes.
Thankfully, she was given the all clear following her operation and the check ups she attended every three months found no trace of the disease.
Then, six months into her pregnancy with Albert, she began to suffer crippling pains in her back.
“If I laughed or coughed or anything, I’d feel this horrible shooting up my spine,” said Miss McAllister.
“I thought it was just a pulled muscle, but the pain kept getting worse.”
She underwent a string of precautionary blood tests and x-rays and although the results all came back clear, her back pain was growing more agonising by the day.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t stand,” she said. “The only shred of comfort came when I lay down absolutely flat.
“Doctors agreed to let me deliver my baby three weeks early as I couldn’t cope any more.
“I thought the pain would stop once I had Albert, but it just kept getting worse and nobody knew why.”
McAllister's three children Elsie-Mai, seven, Albert, 12 weeks old, and Sid, three
A doctor suggested a CT scan, which ended up revealing the devastating truth.
Melanoma had spread to Miss McAllister’s brain, liver and lungs and tumours had eaten away at her spine.
She was immediately referred for surgery to rebuild her shattered bones using metal rods.
Then, she was placed on a course of tablets, which she must take twice a day in the hope that they will shrink her tumours and prevent them spreading further.
“The tablets are quite a new form of treatment so nobody knows how long they’ll buy me, but hopefully I’ll be around for a little while yet,” said Miss McAllister.
After learning of her diagnosis, friends suggested Miss McAllister set up a GoFundMe page to help raise enough money to make special memories with her family during her remaining time.
She is planning to wed partner Lee Effemy, 45, in March next year.
Currently, they’ve organised flowers, have booked several venue viewings and thoughts have turned to the dress.
Albert, Sid and Miss McAllister’s third child Elsie-Mai, seven, will all be involved in the wedding.
“When we told the kids Lee and I were getting married, Elsie-Mai just turned round and said: ‘finally.’ She’s been itching to be a bridesmaid, and now she can,” said Miss McAllister.
Currently, the total raised is just over £1000, but the family are hoping to reach their £5000 target.
“At first, I wasn’t sure about the page because I felt uncomfortable asking people for money,” she said.
“But my friends made me realise that anything that helps me make the most of the time I have with my family is worth it.
“We’ve been blown away with people’s generosity so far. We’re planning to take the kids to Alton Towers in October and Elsie-Mai has always wanted to go to Butlins.
“I just want to make as many magical memories as possible before the inevitable happens.”
Kelsea Little, Media Director at GoFundMe.com said: “Our thoughts are with Sarah and her family during this difficult time.
“It is incredibly heart-warming to see how many people have come together to offer support on Sarah’s GoFundMe campaign, and we wish her all the best with her fundraising and cancer treatment.”
To help Sarah complete her bucket list, click here.
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