A woman whose cancer battle has touched the hearts of Angus people undergo a transplant next week.
South African woman Riekie Cloete, 39, will be in hospital for at least five months and won’t be able to see her children.
Montrose mum Bekki Smith-Dutton sent out a rallying call to the Angus public after her best friend Riekie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia.
A bone marrow match was found in Germany for Riekie but her medical aid does not cover foreign donor matches and the cost of the procedure is £15,000.
Around £3,000 had been raised before Bekki shared her story with The Courier and the publicity sparked a surge of donations which hit the target in July.
Riekie, mum to HenRoux, 5, and Carla, 8, began intense chemotherapy last week at Pretoria East Hospital under the care of a leading haematologist.
She is being treated over 250 miles from her home town of Bloemfontein and her family can’t afford to fly out because it’s too expensive.
She will be allowed to leave the hospital for about 14 days at a time during the five months and friends in South Africa have raised money for her to stay in a self-catering accommodation during this period.
Bekki and Riekie have been friends for 15 years since they travelled the world together working in cruise ship spas.
Bekki, owner of the Cloud 9 salon in Arbroath, said Riekie will start the stem cell transplant next week.
She said: “Before she went to get the treatment she said she could feel the cancer kicking in.
“The treatment came just in time.”
It will take three or more weeks until the bone marrow starts working.
Bekki said Riekie was “an inspiration to us all”.
She added: “Without the public’s support she wouldn’t be getting the treatment, she would be dying.”
Riekie sent a message to her Angus supporters from her hospital bed and said she was “feeling positive”.
She said hopefully the bad cells are being erased “for a new life”.
Fundraising is still ongoing as aftercare is still needed.
A crowdfunding page for Riekie can be accessed at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveriekie.