FROM a Hollywood-themed ball to firefighters washing cars for donations.

From a night of live music to a sponsored walk. Debbie Hall is fighting for her life, with a little help from her friends.

Thanks to their efforts over the past few months, much of Cumbria knows that Debbie, 49, is a police constable from Carlisle who was diagnosed with terminal cancer but is refusing to accept this verdict.

In March, her colleagues launched a campaign to fund groundbreaking treatment in Germany. About £54,000 of the £75,000 target has been raised. This is a measure of Debbie's popularity among those who know her, and of how she has inspired the many strangers who have donated.

"It's absolutely amazing what people are doing," she says.

"The people that are supporting me: my friends, family, the police family, people I don't even know. I just can't put into words how it makes me feel. I'm so grateful to everybody."

All are motivated by the urge to help this caring, giving woman to stay alive.

There's a feeling of payback: in the past few years Debbie has raised tens of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research and Eden Valley Hospice.

Debbie has a grown-up son, Martyn, and a four-year-old granddaughter, Skyla Rose. She has been hurt by cancer before. In 2007 her mother Hilda died at 58, having fought breast cancer.

Fifteen years ago Debbie was diagnosed with the same condition and underwent a mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

In 2015 tests revealed that she had bone and liver cancer. After chemotherapy at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, Debbie's tumours reduced in size. By the beginning of this year they had grown again.

In Germany there is the possibility of proton therapy, which attacks tumours with a radiation beam, and immunotherapy, which boosts the immune system.

Debbie says: "I've had tests in Germany. They've shown that immunotherapy could work. Christie's have given me a CD of images showing where my cancer is in the liver. That was sent to the proton therapy clinic last week for them to make a decision as to whether they can treat me. Proton therapy targets the tumour and doesn't damage anywhere else."

The German tests have cost thousands of pounds and much of the treatment there has to be paid for upfront.

Debbie is still having chemotherapy at The Christie Hospital but recently this has not been working, making the search for other options more urgent.

"Christie's have informed me that there is another treatment they can consider. Four weeks ago I had liver biospies taken. They've been sent away for testing. They're looking at putting me on targeted therapy, which potentially could run quite well with proton therapy.

"With targeted therapy they test the biopsies for hundreds of different drugs. From those tests they'll see what drugs will work with my tumours. Depending on the results, potentially I could have proton therapy and targeted therapy, with immunotherapy should it be needed."

Debbie, a former Currock and Upperby beat officer, is still working although currently office-based. People often tell her that she looks well.

Her appearance gives little indication of what is happening inside.

"I feel quite well at the moment," she says. "I feel a bit more energetic, albeit I'm still on some treatment."

One sign of Debbie's condition is her short hair. This is growing back after falling out during chemotherapy. "I lost my hair. Not totally. It was very fine. You could see my head through my hair. Because I've lost it twice before, it wasn't as bad this time. But for a female it's a very emotional thing. You look in the mirror and think 'Oh, my hair looks nice.' When you haven't got that, it hits quite hard."

Her spirits have been lifted by those who have organised and supported numerous fundraising events.

Her friend Elsa Elliot walked 50 miles around Talkin Tarn, raising more than £1,000. A Hollywood-themed ball at Carlisle's Crown and Mitre Hotel last Saturday raised £2,400. A night of music at the Old Fire Station generated more than £1,700.

Debbie feels that the publicity surrounding her fundraising is increasing awareness of treatments other than those usually suggested by the medical profession.

"I don't feel like it's just about me doing what I'm doing. Other people out there who are following the fundraising can see there's other things going on. If they're armed with more information they can then question their doctors, which might lead towards other routes of treatment. It's so important to raise awareness. All cancers are different. No one treatment is going to help all cancers."

Debbie usually talks about her situation with no visible distress. A question about her mother prompts her to pause, then to cry.

"I miss her," she says. "I just wish she was still here. It's really through what happened to my mum that I've been more proactive and on top of things and questioned things. She's the one that gives me the strength to look for other options.

"It's really difficult to lose your mum because really your mum's your rock, isn't she? She's the one you would turn to. When they're not there it makes it that much harder."

Her own condition is summarised in a sentence whose calm delivery belies its dark truth: "Potentially, without certain treatments, my life expectancy will be cut drastically short."

The interview ends. Debbie is greeted by one of her fundraising friends, Jennifer Davies, known as 'Lady Jen'. Jen hugs Debbie, kisses her on the cheek, and says: "If anybody deserves to live, it's you."

* Upcoming fundraising events for Debbie include the Help a Local Hero school non-uniform day on Wednesday July 11. Some primary schools are asking pupils to dress as superheroes. For more details email

Northern Soul Saturday takes place on Silloth Green on July 14 from 11am. Motown classics will be played. The event will also support Fletcher's Fund, which gives grants to families of children with cancer.

911 singer Lee Brennan is organising The Greatest Singalong - 80s in Carlisle city centre on Saturday August 18. Dirty Dancing will be shown on a big screen with the audience invited to sing along and dress in 80s' fashions. This will be followed by an 80s' disco. The venue and time have yet to be confirmed. More details will be released soon on the Lee Brennan Entertainment Facebook page.

Debbie has organised several balls at Carlisle's Shepherd's Inn in aid of cancer charities. The next takes place on Saturday November 3. Debbie says: "I want to do it for the hospice, not just for me. The hospice is close to a lot of people's hearts. My mum had day care there. It's just a nice peaceful place to be."

To support the fundraising campaign for Debbie, visit