Fulledge Colts Football Club hosting fundraiser for Burnley mum battling rare adrenal cancer
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Abnormally high blood pressure at age 34 while expecting her daughter set Victoria Whitham down the path towards that devastating diagnosis.
Now her six-year-old son Wilbur is also rallying round her by taking part in a football fundraising match hosted by his team Fulledge Colts U7s on Saturday at Prairie Sports Village to help pay off the medical bill for her treatment.
Referring to her baby girl Aurora, who is now one, Victoria said: “It’s really cliché but she saved my life. If I wasn’t pregnant with her then I wouldn’t have known that I had high blood pressure and cancer.”
Medics at first believed her high blood pressure was down to pre-eclampsia, with Victoria, who is also mum to Bradley (18) and stepson Ethan (12), adding: "I had a baby so I thought it was normal to be tired all the time.”
But she was hospitalised last May following the birth, as her blood pressure remained high. She spent three or four months trying different medication with none having lasting effects, before blood tests revealed her potassium levels were so low doctors did not know how she had “not had a stroke”.
Then came the news she had adrenal cancer.
"I’d never heard of it before and there is not a lot of information out there about it. There are groups in America but you really have to dig deep for information. Adrenal cancer is so rare, it’s not easy to pick up but it all started adding together. It spiralled after that.”
Victoria, who suffers from extreme fatigue, says she was in so much pain she could barely walk.
She was referred to Salford Royal Hospital but faced an up to 72-week wait for surgery on the NHS due to a lack of specialist surgeons.
Faced with terrifying anxiety and a high risk of having a stroke, she opted to go private and had the treatment 11 days ago. She will also have some kidney stones removed when well enough.
"The surgery really floored me but now I feel a lot more positive. Before, I was worrying when I could have the surgery, thinking, ‘What if the cancer spreads?’
"I was overthinking, believing that everything was bad. But I don’t have that [anxiety] any more. [The operation] has totally changed my life and given me a new outlook that you only live once so if you want to do something, do it.”
Parents and coaches at Fulledge Colts Football Club have banded together to help Victoria pay off the treatment by hosting the match for two under-sevens groups.
"I was really surprised at first. It’s been so amazing how much people care and want to help. There will be parents doing football scratch cards and one mum is baking cakes. The club is paying for food for the children on the day. They are going the extra mile. It’s like a family. The level they have gone to to look after me and make sure my son can get to football means the world. It’s amazing for Wilbur to feel the support, knowing other people are there for him, too.”