Sasha Williams, 34, Thamesmead, London, is desperate for your help...
This is the best job ever!’ I laughed.
At 32, I was a nail technician at a salon owned by my best mate Rebecca, 35, and her sisters Louise, 36, Sammie, 29, and Vicky, 27.
We had so many laughs,the days whizzed by. I could even juggle shifts around my kids – Katia, then 11, and LJ, 6.
Life was perfect.
But, gradually, in January 2015, I felt so zapped I could barely stand to cook dinner. I grew forgetful, too, losing my flow mid-sentence.
‘Must be winter blues,’ I said.
Then, in the March, fingerprint-sized purple blotches started appearing on my torso, arms and legs.
‘You been pinching me in bed?’ I teased my hubby Lloyd, 35.
Carrying on regardless, I headed to work as normal.
‘Your skin’s grey, hun. See a doctor,’ Rebecca urged one day.
Hearing about my symptoms, my GP frowned and sent me for a blood test right away.
Lloyd was working as a builder, so I headed alone to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Later, my doctor rang.
Tests showed my blood wasn’t clotting.
‘You need to return to hospital now,’ he told me.
Trying to stay calm, I kissed Lloyd and the kids before Rebecca gave me a lift and the girls joined me at hospital.
After they’d admitted me, I couldn’t sleep.
And then… ‘You have acute myeloid leukaemia,’ a doctor explained next morning.
No! I’d just felt tired. How could it be cancer?
‘You’ve 50 per cent leukaemia in your blood,’ another doctor told me.
I’d need chemotherapy.
‘I’ll lose my hair!’ I wailed. I loved my luscious, long, brown locks.
Scheduling treatment three days later, I learned I wasn’t going to be discharged.
Shell-shocked, I rang Lloyd.
‘It’s serious,’ I said, but I waited to tell him face-to-face, while my mother-in-law Elizabeth, 64, looked after our kids.
‘It’s leukaemia,’ I explained.
Lloyd held me tight.
‘We’ll get through this,’ he insisted.
I put on a brave face when the kids visited later that day.
‘Mummy needs to stay in hospital to get better,’ I said.
They didn’t need to know details. Not yet.
Intense chemo made my hair fall out. And my immune system was so weak, visitors had to wear scrubs.
Not enjoying proper cuddles was tough, but LJ loved blowing up the rubber gloves!
Laughter carried me through.
And, in July 2015, after four rounds of chemo, I was in remission.
Transferred to King’s College Hospital, I was prepped for a bone-marrow transplant. It’d flush out the blood cancer cells, and replace them with a healthy donor’s.
On 26 August 2015, I had the 30-minute procedure while my dad Ken, 65, held my hand.
I’d insisted that Lloyd be with the kids.
Administered via a drip, the transplant was uncomfortable, but didn’t hurt.
Afterwards, my blood type changed from O+ to A+, and my immune system was less than a newborn.
It was gruelling. I was kept in isolation – the slightest germ could kill me.
But it was a success and I was discharged.
‘Welcome home, Mummy!’ the kids chirped excitedly.
For several months, I began to feel stronger.
My hair grew back and, last July, I returned to work.
Only, 51 weeks after my transplant, I felt poorly again, and a blood test revealed the most crushing blow.
‘I’m sorry, the leukaemia’s returned,’ my consultant said.
My hopes unravelled. I’d so many reasons to live…
‘I’ll fight,’ I vowed, assuming I’d have another transplant.
But I was told new legislation dictates that second bone-marrow transplants are refused unless the first one fails within one year.
Mine failed after 51 weeks, but they were still denying my chance to live.Over money!
‘Please, I’ve two kids,’ I begged.
But the doctors’ hands were tied. A bone-marrow transplant costs between £100,000 and £250,000.
Deflated, I tried to accept chemo might prolong my life.
But, without the transplant, stats showed a 20 per cent chance of surviving two years.
‘We’ll fundraise,’ Sammie said.
I was touched, but not at all convinced.
‘I’ll die before you can raise it,’ I sighed.
But I’d no clue about people power…
As family, friends and strangers shared my plight online, social media exploded into life.
Well-wishers worldwide donated. The #SashasArmy raised cash through sponsored runs, bike rides and auctions.
All for me.
‘It’s overwhelming!’ I gasped.
And my friend Amy Collins, 36, started a petition to Parliament, urging the Health Secretary to reverse the ruling and allow patients like me a second transplant.
To date, we’ve over 167,000 signatures, so it’ll be discussed in Parliament.
I’m delighted to say that, in January, doctors gave my transplant the green light.
And, in February, we hit £121,000.
I’ll never be able to thank everyone.
We’ve a month left to raise the remaining £9K.
‘We’ll do it,’ Rebecca told me.
By the time you read this, I might’ve had the procedure.
The NHS pays for gastric bands and boob jobs, but they can’t fund saving a young mother’s life?
My voice won’t be silenced – I’ll battle every step of the way.
An NHS England spokesperson told the Press, ‘NHS England has never routinely funded second transplants for relapsed disease. However, clinicians can request a decision on an individual patient basis.’