A YOUNG mum battling ovarian cancer claims she was repeatedly misdiagnosed by doctors and is now fighting for a lifeline medicine after falling victim to a postcode lottery of care.
Mum of four Cher Melsom, 37, of Grenville Close, Nanpean, first complained about excruciating pain and extreme weight loss three years ago – but when the former youth worker, who has a mental health illness, went to her GP surgery in St Austell they told her she had manic depression and gave her a cocktail of drugs.
After repeatedly seeing her GP, Helen Leigh, at the Woodland Road Surgery, and Dr Leigh senior, she was eventually sent by a locum for an ultrasound at the beginning of 2012.
This revealed she had large ovaries but no action was taken.
"It was just swept under the carpet. It was put down to my mental health and that I had depression," she said.
However, in October, while homeless after a car ploughed into her property, she began to suffer pains in her groin and lower abdomen – symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Two months later after an emergency referral to the gynaecology unit at Newquay, in January cancer was diagnosed.
A month later at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro surgeons removed three tumours from her ovaries and spleen and performed a full hysterectomy.
She has begun chemotherapy, and her consultant has said a drug called Avastin could extend her life by years, but last week her application for funding for the drug - drug which is not routinely funded for this cancer in Cornwall - was turned down.
"I'm going to die; that's the fact of it," she said, "but I'm determined to fight against it.
"This drug would give me precious time with my children. My children only have me and I only have them."
She said though her consultant was looking at other funding methods, "I feel I'd be robbing somebody else if I did get it."
A petition launched on Friday to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for her to get the drug has more than 560 names already.
Ms Melsom is mother to Jonathan, 15, who lives in Lichfield with his father, Lizzie Louise, 14, Mollie Olivia, 11, and eight-year-old Daniel Aran, who live with her.
"Most people live their lives for the future, always making plans. Now we're living every day to its fullest," she said.
The hardest question to answer was when Daniel asked: "Will you be in my future, mummy?"
She is also determined to use her plight to help others. "Mental health can't be allowed to overshadow serious illness," she said. "Some GPs need to know this. I was told it was all in my head, part of my depression,
"I'd love to see my youngest boy reach 18 but there's a massive possibility I might not even be able to see next Christmas.
"I just want as long as I can have with my children; they need their mum. They need me."