Abigail’s fighting spirit is a gift to us all

Just a handful of weeks ago Dr Abigail Paige’s family were called to her bedside at The Christie in Manchester. Doctors feared the worst.

The 37-year-old had slipped into an unconscious state and the medical staff removed everything apart from giving her the last of her antibiotics.

Her mum Janet was already with her and they were joined by Abigail’s partner Mark, her dad Alan and other members of the family to say their final farewells.

But fighter Abigail somehow survived the scare and now after spending the last three weeks in Pendleside Hospice, she is hoping to celebrate Christmas at her home in Ightenhill, Burnley.

She said: “I know I am still very poorly but considering how I was, at least I can look forward to Christmas. Pendleside is an absolutely brilliant place and it’s where I wanted to be after The Christie.

“I always say a hospital looks after your body and a hospice looks after your soul. In hospital you wake up some mornings not wanting to carry on. At a hospice, you wake up in the morning wanting to get up and get on with things.”

Abigail is suffering from acute lymphocytic leukaemia. When it was first diagnosed, she was given a stem cell transplant in 2015. Her sister was the donor after tests showed she was a match.

However, her lungs rejected the transplant, and she suffered graft-versus-host disease which made her condition incurable although the symptoms were treatable.

In her teens Abigail studied maths, chemistry and biology at St Hilda’s RC High School for Girls in Burnley, before taking a year out working as a health care assistant at Burnley General A&E.

She then studied chemistry at the University of Manchester before being sponsored by pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to study for her PhD. On leaving university, she worked for GSK in their drugs development laboratory.

Abigail then joined the IT arm of Abbot Laboratories healthcare company, helping to implement pathology systems in her role as a global project manager.

She travelled the world to places like Switzerland, North America and South Africa, but she says: “It sounds glamorous but I only ever saw airport lounges, hotel rooms and boardrooms!”

For the last four years, Abigail has shown her personal toughness and determination in a different direction coping with the effects of her condition. But now she admits she is glad to be under the care of Pendleside.

She said: “Everyone has got time for you at Pendleside. The care the staff gives is so personal. It’s such a warm atmosphere.”