A Northern Ireland woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer before the tumour miraculously disappeared may have been saved by her own immune system.
Sharyn Mackay, from Newcastle, Co Down, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on her kidney which was so rare that doctors at Craigavon Area Hospital sent samples of it for examination by specialists in London, Glasgow and Harvard. The mother-of-four was then dealt a further devastating blow by doctors — the cancer was inoperable and chemotherapy, even if it worked, would only add a few weeks to her life.
“They said it was spindle cell sarcoma which is normally a bone cancer,” she explained. “I was one of only 10 known cases where it had become a kidney tumour. The surgeon kept a watch on my kidney but in April 2004 he told me the cancer had rattled through my kidneys and lungs and I was a terminal case. The hospital said treatment was an option, but not a cure, and that I had a year to live at best.”
The mother was left stunned, however, when further scans to see how the cancer was progressing showed that it had inexplicably disappeared.
“The doctors were astonished and said it could not have been due to anything they’d done,” she added. “Four radiographers studied the scans and none of them could quite believe it. The tumours had gone and I was told to leave the hospital and live a full life. The cancer has never come back and I have never felt better.”
While Mrs Mackay attributed her recovery to the power of prayer, medical experts are now considering the possibility that her immune system played a vital role in destroying the tumour.