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Race to raise pounds 90,000 to keep a brave mum alive.

A FAMILY of fund-raising fighters earn my ungrudging respect and praise this weekend.

They are dedicated to raising pounds 90,000 to buy a supply of a life-saving drug that will give courageous mother Norma Chamberlain a desperate last chance to see her 13-year-old twin sons grow up into men.

Norma has a brain tumour and, after surgery and radiotherapy, was told by doctors that she had only months to live.

Along with morphine injections to dampen her excruciating headaches Norma, 42, has started taking the alternative drug antineoplaston, available only from America.

And, amazingly, after just two weeks she is beginning to feel stronger and can spend longer periods away from her sick bed.

So far she has taken the drug in tablet form but now her husband Stephen, 44, has ordered the more powerful serum - which is injected - from the Burzynski Research Institute in Houston, Texas.

The bill comes to pounds 4,000 for a month's supply.

Stephen said: "Our friends and family started fund-raising immediately and so far we have collected enough for two months' treatment."

Since Norma, from Cardiff, has been advised to continue treatment for TWO YEARS, Stephen and identical twin sons David and Michael face the daunting task of raising a further pounds 90,000.

"I want to see my sons grow up. I want to be able to take them out for trips again," said Norma.

"Orthodox treatment has given me no hope but this new American treatment has.

"I feel so much better already and have become much more positive. I know my family will do everything they can to raise the money."

Norma's tumour was diagnosed in March after she had suffered a series of epileptic fits.

Extensive brain surgery removed most of the one-inch growth but, sadly, within weeks it started growing back again.

Specialists at the Velindre Hospital in Whitchurch, Cardiff, tried radiotherapy but Norma's condition deteriorated even further.

At one point she spent four days in a coma and doctors feared she would die.

But the next week the battling mum regained consciousness - only to be told that the NHS could do nothing more for her.

Desperate to find another treatment, Stephen went to his local library to read up on the condition and discovered an American support group called People Against Cancer.

During a phone conversation with one of the group's representatives he was told about the antineoplaston treatment.

Stephen said: "The drug attacks and prevents cancerous growth and is achieving a 70 to 80 per cent response rate among patients in the States.

"Sadly, it is not yet recognised in Britain so we are having to pay for it ourselves.

"But if we have to, we will even remortgage the house and sell all our assets. I truly believe this treatment is Norma's only hope and I will do anything to get it for her."

Michael said: "I miss the trips out with mum and dad. We just want to see her getting better."

And David added: "We had a no-uniform day at our school and raised money for her. Our friends have all been brilliant."

Graham Campbell, information officer at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre - one of Britain's leading cancer advice groups - said that there was lots of strong anecdotal evidence to support the antineoplaston treatment.

He said: "Professor Burzynski is a sincere and honest man and believes in what he is doing.

"He is well-known for treating cancer patients with brain tumours, some of them very successfully.

"But the big drawback, as in many of these alternative therapies, is the expense."

I am sending the brave Chamberlain family pounds 250 and if YOU would like to join in donations can be sent to: The For-Norma Fund, Co-op Bank, Cardiff. Sort code 089250, account no. 50074264.

Have a Herts,

Mr Prescott

I WISH Deputy Premier John Prescott, the man in charge of transport, could have been on the platform of my station in Hertfordshire last Monday.

Perhaps then he'd have begun to understand why commuters and travellers of sound mind resist the idea of flocking to public transport.

The train due at 6.02am didn't arrive. No explanation was offered and the the next two trains, due at 6.32am and 6.50am were also missing - again no explanation.

A few minutes before 7am the public address system suddenly offered an apology and announced that the next train, due at 7.02am, was running ten minutes late.

The crowd of angry commuters was now three times as large as it should have been.

We crammed into full coaches to hear the guard announce that the trouble was due to staff shortages.

I can just hear them... "Ho hum, it's a nice Monday. I think I'll have a sudden attack of 'flu, or back trouble - and then go fishing!"

Fire apology for a porter!

A HOSPITAL porter has been suspended while bosses investigate a claim that he abandoned a woman patient in mid-corridor because his shift was finished and he wouldn't work beyond his time.

A spokesman for the North Staffs Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, said: "A member of staff has been suspended. The patient was not an emergency and the delay was only temporary."

Health union Unison declined to comment - so I'll do it for them. If this claim is proved, the man should be fired.

Keep Ted and Sam together

MY thanks to all those readers who have written to support residents of sheltered accommodation at Newman Court, Sheffield, in their campaign to let warden Ted Muircraft keep his dog Sam.

Sheffield Council bosses insist that Sam breaks a condition of Ted's employment but elderly residents are fighting back with an SOS (Save Our Sam) campaign and letters of support have come pouring in.

Keep them coming. Write to me at the address below, or to Ted Muircraft's home: Newman Court, Newman Road, Sheffield.

When jealousy leeks out

I KNOW all about monster, prize-winning leeks - I grow them in Hertfordshire with top secret seedlings and info collected from my native North East. News reaches me of a dreadful event in Brandon, Co Durham, where scientists are looking for suspected weedkiller in dead leeks belonging to a lady champion.

Local police say: "It's a sad fact that professional jealousy among leek growers can go too far."

I just hope they find out who's behind this leek rage and that they lock him (or her) up before news of my own Herts prize-winners reaches envious Northern ears.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Petrie, Tom
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 1998
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