AN URGENT appeal is asking people to wear pants on their head to help raise £50,000 for a woman with cancer to get vital treatment which could prolong her life.

Mother-of-four Louise Howes has advanced breast cancer, which has spread to her liver, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

The cancer is incurable but Mrs Howes, 44, is determined to live for as long as possible and be around her children as they grow up.

A website fundraising and awareness campaign, called Cancerispants, is urging people to take selfies of themselves and their friends and colleagues wearing pants on their heads.

It is aiming to pay for specialist immunotherapy treatment in Germany called dentritic cell therapy, which will be given alongside other therapies.

The hope is for it to help Mrs Howes’ immune system fight her cancer and work in parallel with the hormonal therapy she will be receiving.

The treatment will be more effective if it is given as soon as possible after Mrs Howes’s course of chemotherapy ends, so fundraisers are aiming to hit their target by June.

Cancerispants is being supported by Mrs Howes’ husband Rupert, 52, daughter Ella, 18, and sons Tom, 16, William, 14 and Ned, 11, who are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media to help get the message out.

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Nick Cave shows support

The campaign has been growing rapidly, with people sending in pictures of well-known landmarks in the background such as the Tower of London.

The £50,000 will cover the German therapy but the aim is to continue generating enough cash to cover the cost of any further treatment.

Mrs Howes, a development aid worker from Brighton who has worked in Asia and Africa, said: “I want to be around for as long as possible so that my kids have their mother during their childhood and longer if I can.

“Developments in the science of cancer have been incredible in recent years but the time it takes to get promising treatments into any standard treatment regime is too long for people like me and we cannot afford to sit and wait.

“We have to take the initiative.”

Famous faces have also been throwing their support, with Brighton-based singer Nick Cave posing for a photo with Ella.

The fundraising could also fund any new treatments that may become available or necessary in the future.

Any money raised that is not needed will be shared equally between Macmillan, Cancer Research UK and the Penny Brohn Centre.

How you can help

Visit the website for information and updates.

Donations can also be made to: R.S & L.A. Howes, Sort Code 404761, Account No 65222559 Donations can be made anonymously – please just use the reference ‘Cancer is Pants’ or as referenced ‘named’ donations.

Money raised will be used for Mrs Howes’ cancer treatment but ultimately any money unspent for any reason will be shared between Macmillan, Cancer Research and the Penny Brohn Centre.

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The Howes family


LOUISE Howes has spent many years dedicating her time and efforts to help improve pregnancy and childbirth survival rates across Asia and Africa but now she is the one who needs some support.

The 44-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 39 and underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Things appeared to be going well but in January, just as Mrs Howes was approaching the five-year mark, she received the news the cancer had advanced and spread to her liver.

She is currently in the middle of chemotherapy but her thoughts have turned to alternative methods that could also help boost her chances once the treatment has finished and significantly increase her chances of staying in remission.

Family and friends have launched the Cancerispants campaign to raise the first £50,000 to cover the cost of pioneering immunotherapy treatment at a German clinic but Mrs Howes is already thinking beyond this.

She said: “This is a fight for life. It is just the beginning of a long journey that is likely to require repeat therapies and treatments, all at the cutting edge of cancer research and not currently available in the UK, over a number of years.”

The campaign is continuing to grow rapidly, with support coming in through a Facebook and Twitter drive led by Mrs Howes’ 18-year-old daughter Ella, which is helping to increase awareness and boost funds.

In the meantime, the family are also getting on with their day-to-day lives.

Mrs Howes said: “I am making sure that we carry on as normally as possible. I am alive. I am well and I am determined.

“I want to defy the odds and live and not be controlled or defined by cancer.

“The boys are all at school so day to day life goes on nearly normally except that they get me around a lot more and more recently they are getting involved with activities to do with the campaign as they are helping Ella.

“Ella changed all her plans to travel the world before going to university so the impact on her has been great – she came home straight away from Peru where she was volunteering with poor kids.

“She is my companion and does everything with me and to help me – making me take my supplements, making me breakfast, making sure I rest and helping with her brothers.”

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Mrs Howes says she is determined to defy the odds and not take cancer lying down.

She is actively seeking out different types of treatment and support that could help improve the quality of life and extend it and hopes her findings will help other people in the same position.

She said: “I want to help show people in a similar situation some of the strategies I have learnt about and am using to manage physically and emotionally.

“Developments in the science of cancer have been incredible in recent years but the time it takes to get promising treatments into any standard treatment regime is too long for people like me and we cannot afford to sit and wait.

“There are many, many, therapies and approaches but it is difficult for someone newly diagnosed with such a shocking prognosis to navigate all of this and know what to do and how to do it, let along afford them.

“There are treatments which will never be accepted as standard or recognised treatments unless they have gone through the level of clinical trials required for this to happen.

“But these trials are prohibitively expensive so there are many, many, very promising treatments, with growing testimonies from people who believe they made a difference to their survival – which will never be offered as part of a standard approach to cancer treatment – and so many people who may benefit from them are missing out.

“People with advanced cancer live with the certainty that they will relapse and each time this happens they look at a different treatment path – as cancer is clever and it becomes resistant to treatments.

“Eventually you run out of treatment options and may be lucky to get on a trial.

“By the time this happens you are nearing the end of the line.

“So I will keep investigating treatment options – including developments in, for example, the US where there are drugs that are registered for breast cancer which are not even registered here.

“If there is a treatment that will extend my life I will try and get it – but I know this will come at a cost – and I do not want to wait until I am desperate to start fundraising for it so I want to use Cancerispants to raise money so that when that moment comes and I find another treatment that will extend my life – cost does not stop me getting it.”

Mrs Howes said this means she needs to fundraise now when she is at her fittest and has some time on her side.

She also intends to look at why it can take so long for treatments to become available and help raise awareness for others.

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What is Dendritic Cell Therapy?

It is a therapy which involves the use of a personalised vaccine to retrain the immune system to recognise cancer cells as a threat to the body.

Dendritic cells are found in all blood vessels.

These cells identify foreign substances, such as cancer cells in the body, process them and then help jump start the immune response to destroy them by bringing them to the attention of the T cells. Often the dendritic cells are not very effective with this process.

With Dendritic Cell Therapy, the patient’s own dendritic cells are treated and modified to be able to specifically train the T cells to attack and kill all cancer cells that have the same foreign substance on their surface.

Why don’t I just stick with the treatments my oncologist can offer?

Once I have a treatment I cannot have it again and while a treatment may work for a while, the expectation is that it will, at some point, become resistant and I will have to change treatments (assuming I have options left).

I can just sit and work my way through the standard treatments currently available to advanced breast cancer patients in the UK until I am eligible for a trial but my cancer may be too advanced by then to make much difference.

There are currently alternative treatments with very positive outcomes and I need to take advantage of them now.

Tell me a bit more about immunotherapy

Every person is different and so is every type of cancer. Indeed, even among patients with the “same” cancer there is tremendous variation.

Accordingly, there isn’t just one effective therapy for everyone.

Also, in most cases the tumour comes back after surgical removal.

There is a growing body of researchers working to develop a personalised immunotherapy, to prevent a recurrence of the tumour for as long as possible and to do so without toxic side effects for the patient.

The idea is to target the master cells of the immune system (dendritic cells) and help such cells become mature and activated, so that they in turn can activate the overall immune system to precisely combat the tumour.