An Ed Sheeran fan who was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer has revealed the singer donated his guitar to help fund treatment for a last-chance drug.
Actor Suzie Aries, 28, Hornchurch in Essex, who has been crowdfunding to pay for life-changing treatment for her rare type of ovarian cancer not available on the NHS, says that four cycles in and she is cancer free for the longest time yet.
To date, she has raised £150,000 of the £250,000 she needs for two years’ immunotherapy on her Go FundMe Page – and says she has family, friends, strangers and even her favourite musician Ed Sheeran, who donated a guitar which raised £1,500, to thank.
‘I was absolutely flabbergasted and honoured that my favourite artist, Ed Sheeran, would donate so generously to my cause and I would very much like to meet him one day to thank him in person,’ explained Suzie.
Suzie Aries, 28, Hornchurch in Essex, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer in January 2017. Pictured, on a family holiday in the south of France in August 2019 after her most recent surgery to remove what she thought were the last two tumours, but her cancer returned three weeks later
The actor told how Ed Sheeran donated his guitar to help fundraise for a rare treatment that wasn’t available on the NHS. Pictured, before having her most recent surgery in July 2019
So far, Suzie has raised £150,000 of the £250,000 she needs for two years’ immunotherapy. Pictured, her third immunotherapy treatment in mid December 2019
Suzie was diagnosed with the disease in January 2017 – just one month before meeting her ‘amazing’ boyfriend, Karl.
Following three rounds of surgery, six cycles of chemotherapy, and a drugs trial which stopped working, the performer was left with just one option – an immunotherapy drug.
But as the cancer was so rare, the drug was not classified as standard treatment and so wasn’t available on the NHS.
Suzie, who became resistant to standard chemotherapy and is being treated at The Royal Marsden, says the funding for the drug will take her through to November, giving her the best chance of keeping her rare form of ovarian cancer at bay.
Now, she is raising awareness of the disease for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month this March, and says she is blown away by the response for the crowdfunding.
Suzie on the first day of having her first immunotherapy treatment in October 2019 – a day of celebration
The first day home from this trip to St Lucia in January 2020, Suzie was admitted to hospital with a bowel obstruction. Pictured, with her boyfriend, Karl
Suzie with her friend Tor Harding with in London in November 2019. The fundraising night at the Daisy Green Collection restaurant raised £15,000 for Suzie, thanks to her friend who works for that company
SPOT THE SIGNS OF OVARIAN CANCER
Ovarian cancer symptoms are often dismissed says Ovacome which has come up with the easy to remember B.E.A.T. acronym to help people remember what they should look out for:
B is for bloating that does not come and go;
E is for eating difficulties and feeling fuller;
A is for abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days, and
T is for toilet changes, in urination or bowel habits.
If you have any of these symptoms, which are persistent and unusual for you, while it is unlikely you have ovarian cancer, it is worth getting checked by your GP, says the charity.
A simple CA125 blood test can identify whether further investigation is needed for the possibility of ovarian cancer.
if you are concerned about ovarian cancer, you can contact Ovacome’s freephone support line on 0800 008 7054 or visit www.ovacome.org.uk
‘We’ve had dinner evenings, hockey tournaments, head shaving, auctions, concerts and gigs, companies chipping in here there and everywhere and even just people generously donating a percentage of their pay cheque each month,’ she said.
‘Without this money, my options would be very limited with regards to treatment and I would likely have to sit back and wait, which is a very scary prospect and something we don’t want to risk with this rare and aggressive cancer.’
‘The words “thank you” really don’t cover it and I just hope we can keep on going till we hit the £250,000 mark.
‘The longer I can have the treatment, the more my immune system will learn to fight this cancer on its own.’
However, Suzie is still cautiously optimistic about the new treatment, which followed radiotherapy which had left her infertile but with no evidence of disease.
‘What you have to understand about this cancer is that it has the tendency to spread and return and it can even still be there if a scan can’t pick it up,’ she explained.
‘Treatments I have tried so far – chemo, surgery and a drugs trial – have all ended the same – good results to start, with a reduction and even “clear” scans, but then it comes back around three months later.
‘I am now at the three month mark where the cancer would usually rear its ugly head, but it has not this time so this is really good news and super promising.’
Suzie Aries was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive Ovarian cancer in January 2017. Pictured, before her diagnosis
The devastating diagnosis came just one month after she met her ‘amazing’ boyfriend Karl (pictured together)
On her GoFundMe page, Suzie explained how she had her whole life ahead of her and was following her dream, having graduated from the prestigious Italia Conti Academy in 2013, before her diagnosis (pictured performing)
Suzie went on to explain how she started the immunotherapy in October 2019 – four weeks after having full abdominal radiation.
‘These two treatment decisions were based on a paper from America which showed that they together allowed three-quarters of women with my specific rare cancer to remain cancer free,’ she said.
‘But as my cancer is so rare this is all the information and proof that we had and quite frankly all that I needed to decide this was the best course of action.’
Now, this autumn, Suzie will be one of 12 models, who have all been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and are taking part in a high profile Touch of Teal Tea fashion show for the support charity Ovacome. The idea is to raise awareness of the disease.
WHY OVARIAN CANCER IS CALLED A ‘SILENT KILLER’
About 80 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.
At the time of diagnosis, 60 percent of ovarian cancers will have already spread to other parts of the body, bringing the five-year survival rate down to 30 percent from 90 percent in the earliest stage.
It’s diagnosed so late because its location in the pelvis, according to Dr Ronny Drapkin, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who’s been studying the disease for more than two decades.
‘The pelvis is like a bowl, so a tumor there can grow quite large before it actually becomes noticeable,’ Dr Drapkin told Daily Mail Online.
The first symptoms to arise with ovarian cancer are gastrointestinal because tumors can start to press upward.
When a patient complains of gastrointestinal discomfort, doctors are more likely to focus on diet change and other causes than suggest an ovarian cancer screening.
Dr Drapkin said it’s usually not until after a patient endures persistent gastrointestinal symptoms that they will receive a screening that reveals the cancer.
‘Ovarian cancer is often said to be a silent killer because it doesn’t have early symptoms, when in fact it does have symptoms, they’re just very general and could be caused by other things,’ he said.
‘One of the things I tell women is that nobody knows your body as well as you do. If you feel something isn’t right, something’s probably not right.’
Suzie did not realise she had ovarian cancer despite suffering from the common symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain and needing to pass water more often, for five months before being diagnosed with small cell carcinoma ovarian cancer of the hypercalcemic type in February 2017.
‘As a 25-year-old at the time, who was fit and enjoyed exercise, I kept comparing pictures of myself to earlier in the year when I had more abs,’ she said.
‘I had huge fatigue too, but it wasn’t until I had a horrendous sharp abdominal pain during a hockey fitness session that I knew I needed to get medical help and went to a walk in centre.’
Suzie previously had three rounds of surgery, six cycles of chemotherapy and a drugs trial which stopped working
Speaking of her partner Karl (pictured together), Suzie says on her Go FundMe page: ‘I don’t know what I’d do without him’
The actress and singer has praised her partner Karl (pictured together) and says: ‘Sometimes the love of your life comes along at just the right time’
In a bid to test her post-chemo fitness, Suzie has raised money for various charities to help fight the disease