A POWYS paramedic more used to saving lives, is now in a race to save her own after being diagnosed with terminal cancer during lockdown.

Mum-of-two Emma Rees, from Llandrindod Wells, initially noticed stomach changes after she’d eaten, which she at first put down to a gluten intolerance. Things took a sinister turn when she began suffering rectal bleeding and became anaemic and generally started feeling unwell.

She decided to alter her diet, such as taking iron tablets, as she believed it might be associated with a hereditary condition, familial adenomatous polyposis (colon polyps). It was only after the pain became so severe one night and she visited her doctor that the seriousness of her situation was realised.

“One evening the pain was excruciating so I went to Shropdoc who took one look at me and said I needed to be admitted,” said Emma, 39.

“We opted to go in by car but went home first to pick a few things up and I collapsed.”

Cue RRV (rapid response vehicle) and ambulance. At the hospital Emma was admitted onto a ward and underwent an ultrasound, as well as a sigmoidoscopy (test that looks at the rectum and lower part of the large intestine) which found a lump that doctors took biopsies from.

“A week later my world crumbled,” admitted Emma, who is married to Wayne.

“The words cancer, ileostomy (where the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdomen), CT, MRI all came rushing to me in a whirlwind.

“Following the CT and MRI scans they decided to do a PET scan and everything changed after that.

“Without these scans they wouldn’t have picked up on the spots on my lung, the one in my liver and ones in my lymph nodes.

“It’s now a stage four prognosis but one that I’m doing everything in my power to overcome.”

Perhaps it’s the paramedic in her, but rather than wallow in misery and self-pity, Emma has instead jumped into action – starting an intensive five-week programme of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which will be followed by a review, as well as conducting her own research.

That research has led her to the pioneering drug, Avastin, which unfortunately is only available privately and costs thousands of pounds. Emma said she is “doing everything I can” to apply for funding from Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) for the drug she believes could help her beat the odds.

However, in the event her application is turned down, an epic show of love from friends, family and colleagues has almost raised the entire £9,000 Emma needs for Avastin in a matter of weeks.

Sallie Jones, Emma's line manager at the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, set up a GoFundMe page at the start of June, which raised more than £6,000 in a week.

“Family, friends and work colleagues have been amazing so far and it just goes to show how everyone rallies around,” said Emma.

“It’s been mind-blowingly overwhelming and I’m honoured to have so many incredible people in my life making this battle that much easier.”

Posting on the fundraising page herself on Friday (June 18), Emma added: “Week three done and dusted. Two more weeks of this chemo and radiotherapy before we can look at other options.”

Emma’s fundraiser is now up to £8,610 – just a few hundred pounds shy of the target. You can donate to the cause or find out more about it by visiting the website, at https://www.gofundme.com/f/treatment-for-emma-let-kick-this.