A mother who has never smoked and blamed her persistent cough on Covid was crushed after learning she has terminal lung cancer.
Becky Davis, 36, of Redditch, Worcestershire, developed a cough in early 2020, but when the pandemic hit, she was convinced she was suffering from Covid-19.
The single mother went blind in July 2020 when doctors revealed that her symptoms were due to a rare form of cancer that chemotherapy is not effective against.
She desperately wants more time with her six-year-old daughter Lexi, combining targeted therapy on the NHS with a form of specialist radiation therapy available only privately at her stage.
Becky’s family has raised £ 16,000 to fund a course of treatment which she described as the ‘last shot’ to extend her life.
The mother-of-one Becky Davis, 36, from Redditch, Worcestershire, who has never smoked and blamed her persistent cough on Covid, was devastated that she had terminal lung cancer. The single mother is pictured with daughter Lexi at six
‘I never thought it would happen to me. I’m so young. I do not smoke, Becky said.
‘At first I just could not understand it. But I want everyone to know that any of us can get cancer. It can happen to anyone at all ‘.
When Becky’s cough began in January 2020, she thought it was a common infection, although it quickly worsened and began to disrupt her daily life.
‘I was coughing. I would be sick. It was awful, “Becky said.
Becky developed a cough in early 2020 (pictured), but when the pandemic hit, she was convinced she was suffering from Covid-19
She combines targeted therapy on the NHS with a form of specialist radiation therapy that is only available privately at her stage. Becky is pictured during the treatment
Becky became more and more tired and lost weight, but when the lockdown in March 2020 hit, her mother became convinced that she had Covid.
“I did it, so many tests, but they all came back negative,” she said. ‘I wanted to be in the supermarket, during my hour of the day outside, and people glared at me while I hacked up.’
What are rare ALK-positive cancers that are immune to chemotherapy?
ALK Positive lung cancer is a relatively rare form of lung cancer caused by the abnormal rearrangement of the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) gene.
Patients who are ALK-positive tend to be younger than the average lung cancer patient.
Half are under 50 at the time of diagnosis, some are much younger.
The vast majority of patients are women and non-smokers. Most patients are diagnosed at stage 4.
Patients with stage four ALK-positive lung cancer are likely to be prescribed a pill called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) or ALK inhibitor.
Within a year or two, the cancer is likely to develop and the ALK inhibitor will stop controlling the whole cancer.
Source: ALK Positive UK / American Lung Association
With tight restrictions that kept people separated, she was only able to talk to her doctor on the phone when she contacted surgery in April.
‘I think the pandemic could have affected how things ended for me,’ she said.
‘I could not see anyone. No one was able to listen to my chest. I just kept having phone appointments, was prescribed more antibiotics and then went to move on.
‘All the while my cough was getting worse and worse.’
Eventually, she was sent for further examinations at the hospital and she was at work when she received an alarming call from her doctor in July 2020.
She remembered: ‘I found a meeting room, sat there alone, trying to listen to what this person was saying.
‘That was when they told me there was a lot on my right lung. I said, “are you talking about cancer?”. She said, “It could be.”
‘I was just hysterical. I had a five-year-old to think about. ‘
Becky then received a biopsy, which confirmed that she had stage four ALK-positive lung cancer – a rare form of the disease with abnormal arrangement of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene.
The vast majority of patients, such as Becky, are non-smokers. Most are women and half of those diagnosed are under 50 years of age.
“I wanted to stay up at night and read about this cancer, and finally it made sense,” she said. ‘I was hoping then that I had years, not months left. It was a form of security. “
Even harder than accepting the diagnosis himself was bringing the news to his daughter.
She said, ‘I told Lexi that right away. I do not believe in heaven, but that idea seemed to give her some comfort.
So now she knows that mother is going to heaven. But she thinks she can just get up there and visit me.
‘I do not want to remove her innocence, but we talk about it often. I’m telling her I’m got cancer and I do not want to be here forever. I want her to know what’s coming. ‘
Becky’s family has raised £ 16,000 to fund a course of treatment which she described as the ‘last shot’ to extend her life and spend as much time as possible with her daughter Lexi (pictured)
Since chemotherapy was ineffective against her form of the disease, Becky tried two separate forms of medication that were intended to control the condition and prolong her life, but none of them worked for her.
Her cancer was originally in both lungs, multiple lymph nodes and her sternum. It is now cleared everywhere except her right lung where there is progression.
“I do not know how much time I have left,” she said. I hope of course it’s years, but all I can do is wait and see. I take blood samples every four weeks and have them scanned every three months. ‘
Becky hoped that Stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR) – using small, thin rays directed from different angles that meet at the tumor, meaning it receives a high dose – would prolong her life.
Becky no longer works as an administrator, but channels all her energy into creating memories with her daughter. Becky, pictured with her daughter Lexi at Easter 2020
Unfortunately, she was told it was not available to her on the NHS at her stage, so her family has raised £ 16,000 to fund a course of treatment.
She said: ‘Cancer is everywhere at the cellular level now. I have four more sessions with SABR over the next few weeks. Then I’ll have to wait three months to see if it worked.
‘Nothing will be a cure. Not at this time. The only thing I can hope for is that it gives me more time with Lexi. ‘There is no money for further treatment after this, so that’s it. My last shot. ‘
Becky no longer works as an administrator, but channels all her energy into creating memories with her daughter.
Becky says that even harder than accepting the diagnosis herself was bringing the news to her daughter. The couple is pictured at home in June 2021 shortly before Becky’s diagnosis
Becky hopes stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR) will give her more time with her daughter
She said: ‘We used to be really active together. Now I can not quite so much as all my treatment has side effects so we spend time at home.
‘We enjoy little things like making. We make T-shirts, decorate mugs, that sort of thing.
“Lexi loves to do things, and I know we’re really creating memories at the same time – moments she’ll be able to cherish when mom gets to heaven.”
Becky supports Cancer Research UK’s vital work. Visit www.cruk.org to play your part and help support research that will beat cancer.