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Tragedy as Breathe for Jo festival is postponed after Exeter mum’s health deteriorates

A music festival to raise funds to send a mum battling two terminal illnesses to Thailand for pioneering treatment, has been postponed because her health has deteriorated so rapidly she needs medical help imminently.

The Breathe for Jo campaign was launched to raise £30,000 in 30 days to send lymphatic cancer and pulmonary hypertension (PH) sufferer Jo Smith, 36, to Thailand where a doctor is pioneering a type of immunotherapy treatment that could cure her cancer and also stop the advancement of the PH.

It is her only lifeline.

breath for joThis week tests carried out by doctors at Hammersmith Hospital in London revealed that her PH had advanced and also a five centimetre wide mass by her kidneys, where a massive tumour was previously removed.

Tragically Jo is caught in a devastating catch-22 situation – she cannot undergo treatment for the cancer because of the risk to her heart and lungs which have been weakened by the PH. Neither can she be put on a waiting list for a heart and lung transplant, because she has cancer.

Thanks to the generosity of the public, since the campaign launch on April 10, an incredible £20,000 has been raised, in under two weeks.

The funds will cover the cost of treatment at the Better Being Hospital in Bangkok, but another £10,000 is needed to cover travel expenses for Jo, her best friend Sarah Lacey, 36, who is behind the campaign, and Jo’s three year old son Rudey, for her anticipated 45-day stay.

But time is of the essence and although the idea had been to wait until after Breathe Fest this July to fly out to Thailand, with Jo’s health diminishing so rapidly, she needs to start the treatment, her only hope of survival, as soon as possible.

Sarah confirmed that as soon as the funds are released on May 9, they will be booking their flights to Thailand.

“We need to reach our £30,000 target more than ever,” Sarah said. “In addition to the travel expenses, we’re anticipating additional unforeseen medical expenses as well.

“The only option is to get Jo to Thailand as soon as possible,” she continued.

“Time is of the essence, her health is deteriorating so quickly, she’s constantly coughing and sleeping.

“She is so panicked and upset about the results,” added Sarah. “We’re both fearing the worst.”

Sarah explained that among the tests and scans Jo has recently undergone, it was an ultrasound scan on her liver which picked up what is thought to be another tumour.

But Jo has a 50/50 chance of surviving a general anaesthetic because of the strain it puts on her heart and lungs due to the PH.

And after already having to make the heartbreakingly difficult decision to have the initial tumour removed, she made a promise to herself and her son, never to take this risk again.

Anyone who has already bought tickets to the festival, which was due to take place on July 11 and 12 in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens, will be eligible for a full refund.

“We have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity,” Sarah added. “And it’s this generosity which has meant we can get Jo the help she needs sooner than we thought we would need it.

“We hope people will continue to support the campaign as we desperately need to hit £30,000.”

To donate to the Breathe for Jo campaign visit, https://www.justgiving.com/yimby/breatheforjocampaign#/active.

For more information visit the Breathe for Jo Facebook page or follow the campaign on Twitter.

More info here

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