By Patricia Devlin
IT’S been over a year since Dungannon man David Montgomery lost his wife Victoria to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).
At just 31, and with a small baby daughter, she was diagnosed with the aggressive bone marrow cancer.
Within 10 months she lost her battle.
Bravely her husband David, a past pupil of the Royal School, Dungannon, will run the Belfast City Marathon this year in her memory with the aim of raising cash for the Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund.
The dad-of-one will take on the challenge with the help of friend Paul Nicholl, hoping not only to raise funds for research into Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) but also awareness.
Here the 31 year-old, who now lives in Portadown, shares his story of losing his wife and why he feels much more needs to be done to help those suffering from the disease.
‘My beautiful 31 year old wife Victoria was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in February 2012.
This came completely out of the blue as Victoria was a happy, healthy new mum to our baby daughter Rebecca.
She had been feeling fatigued for a few weeks and a routine blood test confirmed that her white blood cells were both proliferating and not maturing correctly.
Her positivity in the face of this devastating cancer of the bone marrow was amazing.
Even when she was in severe pain, she kept us all going; she believed that the following day would be a better one.
The clinicians treating her tried everything, but sadly after four rounds of intensive induction chemotherapy, Victoria passed away on the 20th of November 2012.
None of the treatments provided were able to control the disease and she never achieved any form of disease remission.
This meant that a potentially curative bone marrow transplant never became as option.
She remained positive through all the setbacks, hoping that the next phase of treatment would be the one to put her life back on track.
Victoria was the most wonderful wife and mother; her family meant everything to her.
She was a respected solicitor and an accomplished singer with a love for music and languages.
My life will never be the same without her, I am still trying to come to terms with what has happened; however, I know that so much needs to be done to help others like her.
This disease can strike at any time of life; in fact there are only a small number of known risk factors that make an individual more susceptible to developing the disease.
None of these applied to Victoria. My friend Paul and I have decided to try to do something constructive.
This year we are attempting to run the Belfast City Marathon.
This will be a monumental challenge, as I have done no exercise in well over one year since Victoria was diagnosed.
We are running in memory of Victoria and hope to raise much needed money for the Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund (NILRF).
Paul and I have been friends since 2002 when we met on our first day as PhD students at Queens University Belfast.
I am really grateful to him for his support.
It did not take much persuasion for him to agree to take part. Although advances have been made in the last few decades, there is still so much that we do not fully understand about AML.
Many people are successfully treated, achieving a long term stable remission; however, there are still many whose disease is unresponsive to the available treatments.
NILRF require donations to further develop new treatments to combat this cruel disease. We now know that there are approximately seventy different disease subtypes, and only a handful of treatment options. Only a small number of disease subtypes have targeted treatments available.
Please, please, dig deep to support this amazing cause. We need to actively support further research into AML and other blood and bone marrow cancers.
Remember to give blood or platelets if you are medically able. All AML patients require regular transfusions to support them during their treatment.’
You can support David and Paul running the Belfast Marathon in memory of Victoria at Justgiving.com/defeatleukaemia
Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund – www.leukaemia-ni.org
Charity registration number – XN48014