VIDEO and GALLERY: Simply extraordinary as the fund raising for Billy Lee reaches nearly £32,000
- Credit: Archant
Well wishers have now raised £32,000 to help fund a £70,000 prosthetic limb for a 20-year-old trainee electrician.
Billy Lee, 20, spent more than two months in hospital after his right leg and hip were amputated following surgery to remove a tumour “the size of a can of baked beans”.
Nicky Bantoft, one of the campaign organisers, said today: “We have reached £31,360 in total money. Go Fund Me nearly £19,500 the rest through the team straight into the fund bank account. Great work everyone.”
Billy’s mother says she is looking forward to the day “when I get to see Billy do his first dance at his wedding”.
Billy, of Churchfield Way, Wisbech St Mary, returned home last Friday.
His family now hope to allow him a normal life after an appeal was launched for a specialist prosthetic limb.
Bex Lee, Billy’s mother, said: “When we were told Billy had cancer it was our worst nightmare. We know a lot of people who have had cancer and a lot of them didn’t come through it. We were petrified.
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“If the amputation is below the knee it is much cheaper to get a prosthetic leg so they are provided by the NHS. “But, because of where Billy was amputated, a prosthetic leg was too costly for them to fund.
“He could get a training leg but they are heavy and don’t move from the hip.
“A 3D one has got a movable hip and motion sensors, so he could climb upstairs and run around.
“I’m going to see him do his first dance on the wedding floor and run around with his kids.”
Billy started suffering pain in his leg last summer, but he thought nothing more of it and soldiered on.
As time went by the pain got worse - even laying in bed was agony - and his hip started to swell.
He went for an MRI but doctors thought he had a twisted muscle so he was put on more medication.
A work injury proved to be a blessing in disguise. While Billy was at home his mother became increasingly aware of how much pain he was in and how much weight he was losing.
Billy went back to the doctors. This time, a biopsy was ordered. On November 14, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He had a 10cm tumour in the top of his right femur.
Billy said: “At first I didn’t think anything of the pain. I thought it was just a knee injury I must have picked up somehow and if I left it for a few weeks it would get better.
“But it got progressively worse. I was in constant pain lying in bed. I went to the doctors and asked for an MRI scan. They thought it was a twisted muscle.”
Billy’s femur broke through the stress of the tumour on December 1. He spent a night in A & E at Queen Elizabeth hospital, Kings Lynn, and was then transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where he spent the next eight weeks.
He was bed bound, but never alone. His parents and girlfriend took turns staying with him in his room.
While in hospital, Billy underwent two sets of chemotherapy treatments in the hope of reducing the tumour. But, on January 14, it was found the cancer was more aggressive than originally thought.
Billy’s only chance of surviving was to have an immediate full leg and half hip amputation, which took place in Birmingham on January 21.
Now the family’s thoughts have turned to getting Billy a Helix 3D leg and hip prosthetic, so that he is not dependent on crutches for the rest of his life.
Mrs Lee said: “Consultants informed us that Billy would spend the rest of his life on crutches or in a wheelchair as the NHS are unable to fund a prosthetic limb for an amputation of this kind but we could enable him to walk again if we are to fund it privately once the scar has healed and settled in nine to 12 months.
“Having researched endlessly we have found a prosthetic limb and a UK clinic that are able to give Billy his life back again.
“The ‘Helix 3D’ leg and hip prosthetic will be an initial cost of £70,000 with five yearly servicing and part replacements each time costing £18,500.”
Billy was months away from finishing his three year electrician’s apprenticeship at Bloom and Wake in Outwell before his diagnosis. His college course has been placed on hold during rehabilitation but, as soon as he is ready, he is determined to do his final exam.
Billy praised those closest to him for their “brilliant” support.
He said: “I could not have got through this without my family and girlfriend. Their support has been brilliant.”
The Lee family say they have been “overwhelmed” with the response the appeal has received.
Spencer, who lost his father to cancer, said: “The fundraising has kept us going. It has given us a lift. We’ve got no time to sit back.”
Bex added: “We have been inundated with messages, a lot of them from people we don’t even know. The response has been overwhelming. It has restored our faith in mankind.”
Billy still has up to four bouts of chemotherapy in front of him. But he says he is getting stronger every day and will do whatever it takes to return to a normal life.
He said: “Being released from hospital is the best feeling. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get a normal life.
“I appreciate everything everyone has done for me. Getting that leg has given me something to aim towards and look forward to.
“I’m getting stronger every day. I can’t wait till the day when I’m able to go out with my mates again and do normal stuff.”
On Sunday, a fitness day will take place at the 24/7 gym at Wisbech Tesco.
A calendar of events is available on the Billy Lee Walk On My Own Two Feet Fundraising page.
To donate, go to http://www.gofundme.com/Billyon2feet