Mum's desperate bid to raise £120,000 for crucial cancer treatment

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, pictured with family prior to her diagnosis with a rare form of cancer

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, pictured with family prior to her diagnosis with a rare form of cancer - Credit: Janna Clark

A Dereham mum has detailed her family's heartbreaking trauma as she bids to raise a six-figure sum for crucial cancer treatment. 

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, was first told she had ocular melanoma - a form of eye cancer which affects 500-600 people in the UK - back in 2018. 

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, is trying to raise £120,000 for crucial cancer treatment

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, is trying to raise £120,000 for crucial cancer treatment - Credit: Janna Clark

The 40-year-old was diagnosed just 24 hours before her son, George, was given the all-clear following a battle of his own with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

After four years of setbacks, Ms Clark is focused on raising £120,000 for a treatment called chemostat.

The family's ordeal began back in 2014, when George, then three, was diagnosed with ALL after experiencing trouble breathing. 

Janna Clark's children George and Bonnie pictured while George was undergoing cancer treatment

Janna Clark's children George and Bonnie pictured while George was undergoing cancer treatment - Credit: Janna Clark

"It was absolutely awful," recalled Ms Clark, who lived in Essex at the time. "They pulled me into a room while we were in intensive care and told me. 

"I can remember falling to the floor. I just felt sick and it was really scary because I didn't know what was happening. Jay (Wyatt, her partner) arrived from work to this horrific scene."

That night, George underwent an emergency blood transfusion before being moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

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Over the next three-and-a-half years, he was back in hospital for treatment roughly every four or five weeks, sometimes for three weeks at a time.

George Wyatt, who lives in Mattishall, pictured in hospital while he was undergoing cancer treatment

George Wyatt, who lives in Mattishall, pictured in hospital while he was undergoing cancer treatment - Credit: Janna Clark

"The hardest part was that our life was going on as normal away from that," said Ms Clark. 

"It felt like no-one else was in that position."

Ms Clark's mum was fighting breast cancer at the time, while Mr Wyatt suffered a serious break to his leg. 

George Wyatt, who lives in Mattishall, pictured in hospital while he was undergoing cancer treatment

George Wyatt, who lives in Mattishall, pictured in hospital while he was undergoing cancer treatment - Credit: Janna Clark

And, despite the prospect of George's treatment coming to an end, Ms Clark sensed something was not right with her own health when she started getting headaches.

"Jay would say 'just take a tablet', but it wasn't that kind of headache," she said. "I was getting dizzy spells, I was dehydrated, but I tried to ignore it.

"Around Christmas time in 2017, I was looking at the tree and thinking 'why does it look so dark?' I did this rudimental eye test on myself and eventually worked out that the vision in my right eye was partially obscured."

After checks, she was referred to a specialist in London.

George Wyatt, from Mattishall, pictured with his family on the day of ringing the 'all-clear' bell

George Wyatt, from Mattishall, pictured with his family on the day of ringing the 'all-clear' bell - Credit: Janna Clark

They showed she had cancer in her eye - a day prior to George ringing his 'all-clear' bell on February 22, 2018.

Doctors hoped a type of radiotherapy called proton beam therapy would work for Ms Clark. 

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, with her family following her eye removal

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, with her family following her eye removal - Credit: Janna Clark

However, by the time she arrived in Liverpool for treatment, it had spread within her eyeball. The lump had detached her retina and doctors said her only sensible option was eye removal. 

"At the time I was screaming; I was in bits," added Ms Clark.

Ms Clark's right eye was removed in May 2018 at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, following her eye removal

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, following her eye removal - Credit: Janna Clark

There followed a host of complications, which resulted in at least 10 further operations. 

The family settled in Norfolk in 2019. 

But, following an MRI scan in February 2021 - delayed due to the pandemic - a lump was spotted on Ms Clark's liver, the most common site of metastasis in ocular melanoma. 

"I was devastated," she said. "It was half term, the kids were upstairs and I just cried as silently as possible."

Ms Clark was recommended immunotherapy, which differs from chemotherapy in that it uses the immune system to fight cancer. 

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, pictured with her partner Jay and children, Bonnie and George

Janna Clark, from Mattishall, pictured with her partner Jay and children, Bonnie and George - Credit: Janna Clark

This lasted for a year but, in July, a CT scan revealed the tumour had doubled in size. 

That's when she heard about chemostat, the treatment for which she is fundraising. 

Chemostat is done under general anaesthetic and involves pumping the liver with chemo before quickly draining it.

However, it is not currently available on the NHS and costs £40,000 per round to go private. 

Ms Clark is, looking to raise £120,000 for three rounds, and has already reached in excess of £35,000. 

"It has been brilliant," added Ms Clark. "I can't believe how many people have donated. 

"A lot of people in my hometown in Essex are doing things for me like golf days and raffles. Up here and in Essex I have got some really lovely friends who have helped me so much."

To donate, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/janna.