A Bassetlaw mum-of-five who received a devastating terminal cancer diagnosis shortly after fulfilling her dream of qualifying as a firefighter is raising money to pay for pioneering treatment.
Karen Land, from Retford, has been given just three months to live after being diagnosed with breast cancer in October.
The 39-year-old had surgery the day after completing her training with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue, but was told her condition was worse than anticipated and “there was nothing more that could be done”.
But Karen is determined “not to give up hope”, and has decided to try and raise money for a new treatment known as immunotherapy, which is only available privately or at a clinic in Germany.
Karen, who has five children aged six to 23, said: “It was a bit of a shock, to say the least. It all still feels surreal.
“I was nearing the end of my training, which was very physically demanding.
“I was really fit and healthy, or so I thought. I went to get the lump in my breast checked out, genuinely believing it was nothing, that I would be fine.
“Within the hour, I was told I had cancer, and I walked out in a daze.
“ And just after completing my training, I was told it was terminal. I was absolutely gutted.
“I did some research and decided immunotherapy is my only hope.
“It won’t cure me but it will hopefully give me some more time. It’s the difference between dying and being here longer.”
Karen said she has been staggered by the reaction and support she has received from the community.
A JustGiving page she and her family set up has gone viral, racking up more than £11,000 of a £100,000 target in a just a few days, as well as messages of hope from well-wishers worldwide.
Firefighters at stations across Nottinghamshire are also holding charity events in Karen’s honour- Karen’s partner, Kevin Brett, is a firefighter at Newark Fire Station himself.
And Tony McManus, who operates a ‘winter wonderland’ from his Retford garden each year, is donating proceeds towards Karen’s treatment.
“It has all been more than I ever thought possible,” added Karen.
“I know I shouldn’t be focusing on being sad that my dream job has been snatched away, and that I have bigger fish to fry now.
“I know that I have to focus on getting better, now the diagnosis has moved on.
“But if the treatment could prolong my life enough for me to return to work, and give me some more time with my family, that would be amazing.”
You can donate to Karen’s JustGiving page by visiting: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/karen-land.