In 2015 Deborah Sims’ three young children faced growing up without their mother.
A chance meeting with a British doctor in the United States got Deborah, who has a British passport but lives in Melbourne, on a clinical trial of an experimental drug at Barts Hospital in London. The catch: She would have to move to the other side of the world for a year with no guarantee of success, as it was a phase one trial.
Speaking to Mamamia, Deborah said buying a one way ticket and kissing goodbye to her children was still the hardest thing she’s ever done.
The drug trial saved her life. She went from being terminally ill and having 81 per cent of her bone marrow filled with cancer to being in remission in three months, and having no detectable disease in seven months. It has stayed that way for three years now.
Deborah is now back in Melbourne with access to her drug, but for years she was required to travel to London for it. This also meant time away from her children - when she first moved, she didn't see her kids for four weeks.
After their first visit, she wouldn't see them again for nine weeks. The distance was "dreadful".
"I talk to other mums about this because we take for granted, we know we love our children but FaceTiming our children, you can see them but it became the carnal thing. I couldn't smell them, I couldn't touch them... We were all crying every time we FaceTimed, it was dreadful," Deborah told Mamamia.
Eventually, she persuaded her doctors to let her go home to Melbourne, but they told her she could only leave if she returned to London one day a month to attend appointments.
"I came back to Australia but every three and a half weeks I flew back to London. I would fly to Sydney from Melbourne on a Tuesday and I would arrive on London on Wednesday morning, I'd go and do my stuff at the hospital... I'd go back to the airport on Thursday morning and be back in Melbourne on Friday.