A woman who had a tumor the size of a basketball removed from her lung says a treatment abroad is her last hope at staying alive after being told her cancer was terminal.
Elif Hector, 56, was told she only has months to live in March after doctors discovered two new tumors that had grown to the size of a basketball and a football in a year.
The Turkish native, who has called Scotland her home for 32 years, has set up a GoFundMe for a last-ditch alternative treatment in Mexico after Scots docs told her they had exhausted every available option.
Elif said; “I want to try – because I’m not really ready to give up yet.”
Elif, who lives in Stonehaven, discovered a mass in the lining of her lung in 2012 that was pushing the organ up against her heart after experiencing a myriad of health problems for years prior.
At the time it was discovered, it was around 14cm in size – slightly larger than a standard Coke can – but docs advised her that surgery would be risky and should only be attempted when absolutely necessary.
Elif traveled to Japan to obtain a medication called Rizaben she says kept the tumors in check. But after her supply from her dwindled, she claims the tumor grew back aggressively.
By the end of 2020 it had ballooned to 35cm in diameter and 10lb in weight, sapping Elif of her energy, causing her to lose 25kg and forcing her to take early retirement.
Edinburgh surgeons removed the growth in early 2021 – and Elif thought she had been given a new lease of life.
But those hopes were shattered when doctors told her the tumor was cancerous, and that she had sarcoma – a form of the disease that affects the body’s soft tissues.
And in June last year doctors identified two new tumors along with additional growths that had spread into her lungs.
The new tumors are 17.5cm and 8cm in diameter – respectively the size of a junior football and a baseball.
A distraught Elif was told they were inoperable – and last month she was given less than six months to live. At best, the NHS can offer her end-of-life care.
She tearfully recalled: “I remember when I saw the tumor, and how I felt when I realized I had been carrying that inside me. Then they confirmed it was sarcoma.
“I was feeling great, and trying my best to be positive. I didn’t believe it would turn out this bad.
“I had no idea what cancer was like but the pain I am experiencing is like nothing I’ve ever felt.”
Elif’s daughter Tara set up a GoFundMe page with an ambitious target of £55,000 to cover an alternative therapy in Mexico.
The Chipsa clinic in Tijuana uses so-called ‘Gerson therapy’ – a combination of heavy fruit and vegetable juice intakes, coffee cleanses and supplements – to treat cancers.
Gerson therapy has little basis in science and its success rates have been questioned by medical experts.
Prince Charles was criticized for praising the treatment at a medical conference in 2004 and Cancer Research UK says there is “no scientific evidence to use it as a treatment for cancer.”
But Elif says she has no other options left – and would rather know for sure she has exhausted every possible avenue to prolong her life.
Both the treatment and the messages of support on the GoFundMe page, which has raised just over 10% of its target so far, have given her a renewed sense of hope that she has not felt in years.
“People have gone to Mexico, gotten well, and come back. If nothing else, I would like to try,” she added.
“I was reluctant to set up the GoFundMe because I didn’t want friends and colleagues finding out I was ill – but I know if it was them in my situation I would want to help.”
Tara, 26, added that her mum deserved a final chance at extending her life.
She said: “We don’t have cancer running in the family so it was completely unexpected.
“After her surgery for the big tumor we felt more hopeful, she had a new lease of life.
“It could go one of two ways. We could accept that this is it and that there’s nothing that can be done or we could try to do something about it.”
The GoFundMe page can be found here.
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