For the past 4 years my brother Mark has been fighting cancer, doing everything in his power to spend more time with his wife Claire and his 2 children, Jamie and Katie. Mark has tried to keep as fit as he can through his love of Mountain and Road biking, running and walking. This ensured he was well enough to endure many treatments and operations. But the cancer has continued to come back. Last week Mark received the news he had feared the most, the cancer had spread to his brain. This means he is no longer eligible for NHS drug trials. The only options left was to have chemo and Radiotherapy which have limited effect on his type of cancer. But there is a glimmer of hope. A chance to have one last treatment privately abroad that could change his life and mean he is here to see his children grow up, meet their first boyfriend/girlfriend, see them in their chosen career and hopefully the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. But we need your help. The treatment will cost over £150,000 plus flights and accommodations. Any kind donations will bring him a step closer to this treatment.
Mark’s story so far:
For Mark his journey with Cancer started in
2005 when he was first diagnosed at 23,
6 months before he was due to get married.
Fortunately a couple of small operations were all that was required for him to get the all
clear. We thought that was the end!
Unfortunately 12 years after his first diagnosis, Mark found another lump close to his original tumour and after a couple of trips to the Doctors to convince them to do something about it, he had a biopsy just before we all headed to Florida for a family holiday in 2016. Sadly when he returned from holiday he had numerous letters containing hospital appointments and voicemails on the home phone asking him to call his GP urgently. The news came that the cancer had returned and was now considered Stage III as it had begun to spread locally. Mark had surgery to remove it all but 9 months later it was back. So more surgery was needed but then he caught a break. A clinical trial had opened at the Royal Marsden and Mark met the requirements and was quickly accepted. But the trial was short lived as the cancer had come back again, only 6 weeks into the trial.
His oncology team recommended a combination of immunotherapy drugs designed to boost his immune system to fight off the cancer and he started treatment in April 2018, but only a few months into treatment, and after suffering severe headaches he was admitted to hospital as the immunotherapy had caused swelling in his brain and was also attacking his Liver. It was a scary time for us all. Unfortunately this meant he couldn’t continue with the treatment. He had to take steroids and immunosuppressants for 3 months to bring things back under control. By the end of 2018 the cancer was growing again and further surgery was needed although now it was clear the cancer had spread to his lungs and his cancer was now Stage IV. Determined to keep going with treatment he started another immunotherapy during 2019 that kept the disease stable for a while but by the end of 2019 the cancer in the lungs was growing and it was now present in his Liver. He was offered another clinical trial and joined this but had mixed results with some improvement in the lungs but the Liver continuing to grow.
And then a week ago Mark received the news that the latest scans showed the cancer had spread to the brain ruling Mark out of any further clinical trials. His only options now are radiotherapy and chemo both of which have limited effect on his type of cancer. He has chosen to have both treatments to try and buy more time with Claire and his children and to try to be well enough to have one final treatment abroad that is only available through private funding .The cost of this treatment will be in excess of £150,000 plus flights etc.
This is a novel treatment that harvests, grows and improves his own immune cells to target and attack the cancer. The results of previous patients have been really promising and this is his last hope to be cured of the disease.
Throughout all of this time Mark has remained strong and positive. Shielding his family from some of the devastating news he has had to face along the way. Continuing to organise family holidays, skiing to Austria, camping with extended family, Charity bike rides and so the list goes on. Mark has also continued to work throughout in a highly pressurised job as the Harbour Master for London. He launched a drowning prevention strategy for the Thames with Prince William even after finding out just weeks before that the cancer had spread.
Mark has never given up and continues to fight!
- Michael Buller
- Cyrilla Rowsell
- Lyn Radley
- Maureen Golson
Organizer and beneficiary
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