An Altrincham businesswoman given just months to live has launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to undergo life-saving specialist treatment in Germany.
Catherine Matthews, owner of The Old Post Rooms on Stamford New Road, was given two years to live in January 2016 after being told that the breast cancer she had successfully beaten in 2009 had returned and spread to her lung, liver, pelvis, rib, skull and spine.
The devastating diagnosis followed what Catherine believes were a series of misdiagnoses by her GP and Wythenshawe Hospital stretching back to August 2014.
On top of all that, in February 2016, Catherine was forced to undergo emergency surgery lasting nine hours to prevent a tumour on her spine from leaving her paralysed.
Remarkably, within days Catherine had sufficiently recovered from that operation to be mobile enough to start a clinical trial at Christie’s last March, which doctors said would help to keep the disease at bay for a maximum of 16 months.
But with time running out on that timescale, the 59-year-old has now launched an appeal to help fund pioneering immunotherapy treatment at a clinic in Frankfurt.
“After this trial there’s nothing,” she told us, “so I’ve started the fund. There are a couple of women who have got to Germany and had pioneering immunotherapy, and the cancer has just gone.”
Catherine, who has a daughter in her 20s and is also a grandmother, says it’s essentially her last hope as she would refuse any further courses of chemotherapy.
“I’m not taking that because it wouldn’t cure me, it would only give me a little but more time – but for that time, I would be very sick.
“What’s the point of having those last six months sick and not being able to do anything? I’ve lost two friends recently at Christie’s, and they died of the treatment, not the cancer.”
Two years ago, Catherine rescued Altrincham’s iconic Post Office building – which had been boarded up since closing in 2006 – and turned it into a vintage tearooms and local business hub.
Her partner, Jason, is also a local retailer on Stamford New Road, running Snugworld Beds.
Catherine said that although she had been feeling much more tired recently, she was trying to remain positive.
“I am positive,” she said, “I think I’d be dead if I didn’t have the positivity. I have my bad days when it just haunts me, more so after Christmas.
“When they gave me two years, you’re a bit blase, but after Christmas, it’s like each month is knocking a month off and it’s getting closer to the time they’ve given me.”
Catherine’s niece, Hannah Gleave, said her aunt was an “inspiration”.
“My auntie has and still does make an impact on so many lives, she has been mine and many others’ inspiration, a wonderful nana to her four grandsons who she adores.
“Please help me save her life I don’t want to lose my auntie, we would be so grateful for any donations and show of support.”