A fit and healthy father, diagnosed with stage four cancer, says he looked like an “Elm Street Nightmare” after his horrific reaction to chemotherapy made his young son too embarrassed to go to cricket matches, and now hopes to save his life. with a breakthrough vaccine.
Geoffrey Seymour, a 41-year-old purchasing specialist, loved to play tennis, basketball and cricket and was always healthy until just before his 41st birthday when he started seeing blood in his stool.
Geoffrey was aware from the TV commercials that it was a sign of cancer, so he went to his GP immediately.
Geoffrey, who lives in Richmond, London, with his wife, 44, Santa, and their 10-year-old son, Marco, was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer that had spread from his colon to his liver – a condition so severe and seemingly hopeless that it was likened. “clinging to a burning paper bag”.
He also had a bad reaction to chemotherapy and severely blistered the skin on his face, making him look like Freddy Krueger from the 1984 horror movie, according to Geoffrey. A Nightmare on Elm Street.
But chemotherapy didn’t work, and now to save his life, Geoffrey went to Germany for dendritic cell therapy – where a personalized vaccine was created in a lab to stimulate the immune system.
Research in this area is at an early stage, according to Cancer Research UK, and so the treatment was not cheap – just one injection in Germany on 17 October cost £17,000 and Geoffrey is now waiting to see if that’s enough to help him pay. while still collecting donations.
“I couldn’t even wait for the fundraising to end just because I was so worried the disease would spread,” he said.
When three sessions of five doses of chemotherapy didn’t work, Geoffrey was determined to find a new approach, leaving him with such bad side effects that he no longer wanted to go out in public or even watch his young son play cricket.
“I had a really bad reaction on my face, my face was full of painful blisters that felt like they were on fire,” she said.
“I got to a point where I looked like a Nightmare on Elm Street. If I hadn’t gone there with a sack on my head, other people would come and look at me and say, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’ I thought. when I am quite happy to mingle with the crowd.
Geoffrey’s ordeal began in April 2021, just two weeks before his 41st birthday on March 4, when the cancer received the first warning signs.
Geoffrey decided to visit his GP after seeing blood in his stool, knowing it could be a sign of cancer. And in late March, at Kingston Hospital, he was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer that had metastasized to the liver.
After diagnosis, in March 2021 he received five cycles of chemotherapy every three weeks, which initially reduced the lesions on his liver. He says he feels “optimistic” at this point.
She had surgery to remove one-third of her liver in December 2021, and the medical team began preparing her for radiotherapy to be used on her colon – she even got radiomarks tattooed for laser alignment.
A month later, a scan showed more tumors in her liver, so she got another round of chemotherapy. This time was successful and liver surgery is booked for June 2022.
But just as things were going well, a few weeks before the surgery, a scan revealed that the disease had progressed. Geoffrey was put back on chemotherapy with a different agent and the surgery was cancelled.
After just two cycles, blood work and a scan showed the disease had progressed again, and all the side effects had become unbearable for Geoffrey.
“The side effects got worse, worse, and now that chemotherapy is no longer effective, the body has gotten used to it.”
Explaining why she reacted badly to a chemotherapy drug, she said: “It actually kills all of your fast-growing cells, including your cancer cells, but also your hair and nails. I had a really bad reaction to it on my face.
Determined to find an alternative, Geoffrey started doing his own research by looking online and found the dendritic cell therapy, but was told it would not be available to him in the UK.
On October 17, 2022, he decided to fly to a laboratory in Ulm, Germany, to receive a week-long treatment. Friends and family have gathered to contribute to the Go Fund Me call, which has raised more than £14,000 and helped pay off the £14,000. 17,000 injections.
“I still have pain, I have a lot of pain, and I’m trying to find a good balance in that with very strong medication,” he said.
Geoffrey will meet with his oncologist in the UK on 1 November, but he knows he may have to pay for more vaccine doses and more treatments abroad, and he continues to raise money for it.
Caroline Geraghty, specialist cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: “Dendritic cell therapy is a type of vaccine that can treat cancer. Dendritic cells help the immune system recognize and attack abnormal cells such as cancer cells.
“To make the vaccine, scientists grow dendritic cells alongside cancer cells in the lab. The vaccine then stimulates your immune system to attack the cancer. It is still under investigation, so the evidence base is not yet strong enough for it to be available in the UK.
“Decisions about the best course of treatment should be based on solid evidence of benefit – so it’s important for patients to talk to their doctor about any alternative treatment they’re considering.”
Thanks to continued advances in research, there continue to be many new cancer drugs that show efficacy in clinical trials and offer potential options for people with cancer.
“But although regulators have increased the speed with which they are evaluating them for routine NHS use, unfortunately there are times when certain drugs are not yet readily available for those who might benefit. We understand how frustrating that can be.”