A young singer twice diagnosed with terminal cancer is being given the chance of life – thanks to her mum.
In 2018 Jenna Cameron, 30, who has two daughters, Aria-Skye, three, and Ivy-Rose, two, was told the liver cancer she had battled as a child had returned and she was later given the terrible news that it had become terminal.
The mum prepared herself and her children for the worst but brave Jenna has told how she has been thrown a lifeline after surgeons said she was now eligible for a live donor transplant.
Initial tests have found Jenna’s mum, Susan Evans, 51, is a good blood match and it’s hoped the operation could go ahead within months.
Jenna, with her mum and sister Hannah Beckett at her side, said: “My mum is amazing. She has always been there for Hannah and me and, although Hannah is worried, we are all positive. Our mindset is that this is what is meant to be.”
The operation will see Jenna’s liver removed and replaced with up to half of her mother’s liver. If all goes well, both women should go on to live normal lives. There can be complications but Susan said she was ready to sacrifice her health so her daughter could live.
Susan said: “This is my chance to save my daughter’s life. I have had my life, but she is only 30, she deserves to see her daughters grow, and to become a grandma herself in the future. If necessary my family could manage without me, but Jenna’s babies need her.”
Jenna has faced two terminal diagnoses in her life. The first was when she was only 10 years old and doctors at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital delivered the bombshell that she had hepatocellular carcinoma – a rare cancer in children – and had only four weeks to live. Her life was saved then when surgeons removed three-quarters of her liver.
Susan recalls: “I have faced losing Jenna in the past. I cannot face losing her again. I am scared about the transplant. I have never been under the knife before but I have faith in the expertise of the surgeons.”
Doctors at the specialist Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham originally said the transplant was not possible because of the high rate of “cancer markers” in Jenna’s blood meant the risk of rejection was too great.
She was instead given an alternative procedure, known as radio frequency ablation which uses electrical currents to tackle the growths and aimed at gaining her some extra time.
The treatment reduced the cancer’s growth rate, and assessments made over several months have shown it has remained relatively stable, opening up a window of opportunity.
While a living donation from her mum is thought to be the most speedy and effective option, Jenna is also now on the general transplant waiting list for a whole liver from a deceased donor.
She is also eligible for a groundbreaking transplant trial being run by the University of Birmingham and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Susan will now have more blood tests, liver scans and a psychological assessment before the operations can go ahead. She said: “If everything goes well things should move pretty quickly.
“In a few weeks we could be side by side in the operating theatre. As we understand it, they will take up to half of my liver and give it to Jenna.
“The organ will regenerate. It does not grow back to its full size but the piece that is left works harder to function as a whole liver.
“Jenna has managed with a quarter of her liver since she was 10. Back then, becoming a live donor was not an option.”
Hannah, 21, who supports the pair’s decision, admitted: “I am afraid. It was bad enough with the thought of Jenna not surviving, but now it is doubly hard when it is Jenna and my mum involved. I just want them both to be OK.”
Jenna, who is convinced a lifetime commitment to alternative remedies and treatments has helped to defy the odds so far, is now selling her record, Fearless, online under her stage name Cameron Jay to generate much-needed cash for her holistic care in the run-up to the transplant.
She said: “Cancer cannot keep me down. I have to keep going because I have two babies to think of.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to my mum or more proud of her. This transplant could finally be the beginning of a whole new life.”