Laura, who had a near death experience when her heart stopped for 25 minutes due to complications caused by cancer treatment, is biting back at the disease by supporting Stand Up To Cancer with a Sunday Brunch fundraiser.
Laura was initially diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2018 after suffering months of persistent coughing and weight loss. Scans showed tumours in her chest that were pressing on her lungs. She began a course of chemotherapy – spending her 21st having treatment - but instead of shrinking, her tumours started to grow.
Being rushed to hospital and going into cardiac arrest
Crisis point came on New Year’s Eve 2018 when Laura became incredibly breathless. On New Year’s Day 2019 they were so alarmed they rushed her to A&E. Scans showed her chemotherapy had caused fluid to build up around her heart, stopping her breathing.
"The doctors were running up to the ward to drain the fluid off my chest but it was too late – I went into cardiac arrest. In fact, I died that day. My heart stopped for 25 minutes and my parents were called back to the hospital to find the nurses trying to manually restart my heart while simultaneously draining the fluid.”
Laura’s heart was re-started and she was put into a medically induced coma to protect her brain and body. Her parents were warned that, if she survived, she may have suffered brain damage.
Two weeks later Laura was woken out of her coma in intensive care. Her recent memories had been wiped, she did not remember that she had cancer, and had no idea what had happened.
Being in remission and re-building her life
“At first, I would only speak Hungarian, my childhood language. I expected my brother, who was 14, to be about 7, and I didn’t remember anything about my illness or even events from recent years.”
Laura’s family helped her through her recovery, talking to her constantly and reminding her of pictures and videos. Over time Laura recovered most of her memories and learned to do everything again. In February 2019 she was put onto a different chemotherapy regime, which shrank her tumours without complications.
In June 2019 Laura had a stem cell transplant to reboot her immune system. Scans since then have shown that the tumours in Laura’s chest have shrunk to a tiny size and are no longer active. She has been declared in remission and has just started a college course in theatrical make-up.
Having a positive outlook and raising awareness of cancer
Laura's close encounter with death gave her a more positive outlook on life and made her determined to raise awareness of cancer and raise funds for essential research.
“When my memories came back, I remembered watching Stand Up To Cancer in hospital with my sisters when I was first ill. The comedy made us laugh so much, and the cancer stories made us cry. It made me realise how important research is and how much fundraising matters."
Now she’s recovered, Laura will be holding a Hungarian-inspired Sunday Brunch for her family to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer.
“I’m really looking forward to making Sunday Brunch for my family. I’ll be cooking up a feast of Stuffed Cabbages (Töltött Káposzta) which is a traditional Hungarian dish that we usually eat on special occasions.
“It’s a great way to join Stand Up To Cancer and do our bit for research. I hope other people will read my story and be inspired to join us by holding their own Sunday Brunch.”
If you’re inspired by Laura’s story to host your own Sunday Brunch fundraiser, sign up today for your free fundraising pack. It’s full of top tips and recipes to make your brunch a cracking success.
Help us beat it with brunch.
Tune in to Sunday Brunch this Sunday, at 9:30am on Channel 4.