A community has rallied around a Bury St Edmunds mother-of-three after learning she could have just weeks to live.
Sam Petrie, 33, received the diagnosis on December 27, after being told the cervical cancer she was treated for in October 2016 had spread to her lung.
Yesterday she started a course of chemotherapy in the hope it might shrink the tumour and give her more time with her husband Kevin and three children, aged 15, 12 and eight, after saying ‘I’ve got to fight this’.
Her close friends have joined the battle and formed ‘Sam’s Army’ to raise funds to support Sam and her family through any treatment that lies ahead.
And thanks to overwhelming support from the Howard estate community and online donations, Sam’s Army has raised £7,500 in less than a week.
Sam said receiving her diagnosis was devastating, after initially fearing she had a chest infection.
“I was pretty numb when I was first told and all I cared about was my children and husband. I thought ‘I’m not ready to die – there’s got to be an alternative’,” she said.
“I’m young and fit and there’s nothing wrong with me other than this. Surely someone somewhere in this world can look at what is wrong with me and say ‘Okay, let’s try this’? Someone must be able to help me.
“I’m very determined and I will try anything. I’m too young to die. It’s not my time yet and I am not going to give up. I have got to fight this for my kids and my family.”
Meanwhile Sam’s friends Holly-Jay Lewin, Wendy Brinkworth, Clare Suckley, Jayde Zdrenka and Selina Franklin, who described themselves as being heartbroken about her diagnosis, formed Sam’s Army.
They are aiming to raise funds to pay for alternative therapies, clinical trials and support the family through any treatment Sam needs.
Wendy said: “Last Wednesday we thought ‘what can we do to raise some money which echoes how Sam is?’. She likes a bit of dancing and some leopard print, so we decided to hold a disco at the Greengage pub on Saturday night.”
Jayde and Clare set up a crowdfunding justgiving page, while Holly appealed to local businesses for raffle prizes and pledged to sell one book of raffle tickets. She eventually sold more than 10 books and Sam’s Army collected 300 raffle prizes in three days.
Wendy said: “The thing is, Sam’s story resonates with people. We are all a similar age with kids and this could have happened to any of us.”
Clare said: “We haven’t got time to sit and wait. We need to have the money now so it’s there if Sam should need it.”
Sam said she felt ‘emotional and overwhelmed’ after seeing the support for her at the disco.
“To receive such devastating news and then to have that support is amazing. I said to my husband when I got home that I actually felt happy and I went to bed with a smile and felt so loved,” she said.
Sam’s Army has thanked all the businesses which had already donated raffle prizes, and pledged to carry on fund-raising. Events in the pipeline include: charity bingo at Newbury Community Centre on January 26 from 7pm, organised by HEART (Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants); a jungle-themed family disco at Greene King social club on February 24, an All Glammed Up gig at the Newbury Community Centre on March 10, and another raffle.
To donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sams-battle-with-cancer or follow https://www.facebook.com/Sams-Army-1701960959854574/
Anyone wishing to donate a raffle prize can contact Wendy on 07477 224691.