A NEWLYWED mother-of-four from Banbury says she will support life-saving research to help more people survive a rare form of the disease that claimed the life of her husband last month.

Martin Kirby, 40, was diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma of the central nervous system last year.

Despite receiving treatment that eradicated the cancer, this summer he relapsed and passed away at home on September 19.

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Oxford Mail: Clare and Martin Kirby on their wedding dayClare and Martin Kirby on their wedding day (Image: n/a)

Now his wife, Clare, is supporting the brand new OptiMATe clinical trial funded by Stand Up To Cancer at Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, which aims to help the 30 per cent of patients like Martin, who were previously unresponsive or their cancer returned following their treatment.

“I wouldn’t wish what we’ve been through for the past two years on anyone,” she said. “I’m so pleased this research and this trial for this rare type of cancer is happening and more people need to know about it.”

Before Mr Kirby’s diagnosis the couple, who share children Oscar, 14, Skye, 12, Ezra, four and Clare’s son, Lewis, 22, had never heard of lymphoma. It wasn’t until Christmas 2020 that Mr Kirby showed signs that he was unwell.

Oxford Mail: Clare with her childrenClare with her children (Image: n/a)

Mrs Kirby said: “On Christmas Day and Boxing Day he was absolutely fine but on December 27, he woke up with what he thought was a hangover and gradually started deteriorating.

“He was dizzy and really unsteady on his feet and about ten days later he was prescribed anti sickness tablets. When things didn’t improve a few days later, doctors sent him to the hospital for an MRI and a CT scan.

“They initially thought he’d had a mini stroke but then called him in for further tests which identified a lesion on his brain.

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“The medical staff thought it was caused by an autoimmune disease and sent him home with a course of steroids.

“But by mid-February, he couldn’t even climb our stairs, had begun choking on food and his breathing was erratic.

“By the end of March, the lesion had grown to a size that meant they could access it and we finally had a diagnosis.”

Oxford Mail: Martin KirbyMartin Kirby (Image: n/a)

By the end of July, an MRI revealed the cancer had come back and this time was incurable. Mr and Mrs Kirby had their wedding in the hospital the following month.

After returning home the following July, Mrs Kirby said he was ‘so happy’ but was only able to fight for another month before passing away.

“We had so many plans for the future with our children and there are things we’ll never get to do now,” said Mrs Kirby.  

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Now, Mrs Kirby Clare is urging supporters to continue accelerating research like the OptiMATe trial by fundraising.  

To help her fundraise or donate, visit su2c.org.uk 


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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