Bowel cancer symptoms: A fit, healthy father diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer reveals first warning sign

A fit, healthy father, diagnosed with stage four cancer, says he was left with “a nightmare on Elm Street” after a horrific reaction to chemotherapy left him too embarrassed to go to his young son’s cricket matches – and he now hopes to save his life with a groundbreaking vaccine.

Geoffrey Seymour, 41, a procurement professional, loved playing tennis, basketball and cricket and had always been in good health until just before his 41st birthday when he started experiencing blood in his stool.

Geoffrey was aware that this was a symptom of cancer from the advertisements on TV, so he quickly went to his GP.

Geoffrey, who lives in Richmond, London, with his wife, Santa, 44, and their son, Marco, 10, has been diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, which has spread from the colon to the liver – a high-risk and seemingly hopeless situation. to be “rolled in a paper bag set on fire”.

He also had a bad reaction to chemotherapy that caused severe blistering of the skin on his face and, according to Jeffrey, made him look like Freddy Krueger from the 1984 horror movie, A nightmare on Elm Street.

The chemotherapy has stopped working but now, in an effort to save his life, Jeffrey has traveled to Germany for dendritic cell therapy – where a personal vaccine is being created in the lab with the goal of stimulating the immune system.

Research in this area is at an early stage, according to Cancer Research UK, so the treatment hasn’t been cheap – just one injection in Germany, on October 17, cost £17,000, and Geoffrey is now waiting to see if that will be enough to help him, with Continue collecting money to pay for it.

“I couldn’t even wait until the end of the fundraiser to get it done just because I’m so worried about the disease spreading,” he said.

Geoffrey was determined to find a new way after three sessions of five doses of chemotherapy didn’t work and left him with side effects so bad he no longer wanted to go out in public, even to see his little boy playing cricket.

“I had a really bad reaction in my face, it was full of painful blisters that made my face feel like it was on fire,” he said.

“It just got to the point where I looked like Nightmare on Elm Street. Unless I went in there with a bag on my head, there were other people who would come up to me and look at me thinking, ‘What’s wrong with this guy? “.

Jeffrey’s ordeal began in April 2021, just two weeks before his 41st birthday on March 4, when he received his first warning signs of cancer.

After discovering blood in his stool, Jeffrey decided to see his GP, as he knew it could be a symptom of cancer. And in late March at Kingston Hospital, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, which had metastasized to the liver.

After the diagnosis, in March 2021, he had five cycles of chemotherapy every three weeks, which initially reduced the lesions in his liver. At this point, he said he felt “upbeat”.

In December 2021, he underwent surgery to remove a third of his liver, and the medical team began preparing him for the radiation therapy that was going to be used on his colon — he even had radio tags tattooed to align the lasers.

A month later, a scan showed more tumors in his liver, so he underwent another round of chemotherapy. This time it was successful and the liver surgery was booked for June 2022.

But, just as things were getting better, a few weeks before the surgery, a scan revealed progression of the disease. Jeffrey was put back on chemotherapy with a different agent and the surgery was cancelled.

After just two cycles, blood work and scans showed the disease developing again, all while the side effects were unbearable for Jeffrey.

“The side effects just got worse, worse, worse, and now, the chemotherapy just isn’t effective anymore, the body is used to it,” he said.

Explaining why he reacted so badly to the chemotherapy drug, he said, “It basically kills all the fast-growing cells, which includes cancer cells, but also includes your hair and nails. I had a really bad reaction to that in my face.”

Determined to find an alternative, Geoffrey begins doing his own research by searching online and finds dendritic cell therapy, only to be told it will not be available to him in the UK.

He decided to travel to a lab in Ulm, Germany, for a week’s treatment on October 17, 2022. Friends and family have gathered to contribute to his Go Fund Me appeal, which has raised over £14,000 and helped pay the sterling. 17,000 injections.

“I still have pain, I have a lot of pain, which I try to find a good balance of very strong medications,” he said.

Jeffrey is due to see his oncologist on November 1st in the UK, but knows he may need to pay for more vaccine doses and more treatment abroad and continues to raise money to pay for it.

Cancer Information Nurse specialist at Cancer Research UK Caroline Geraghty said: “Denocyte therapy is a type of vaccine that can treat cancer. Dendritic cells help the immune system to recognize and attack abnormal cells, such as cancer cells.

To make the vaccine, scientists grow dendritic cells along with cancer cells in the laboratory. The vaccine then stimulates your immune system to attack the cancer. It is still being researched, so the evidence base is not strong enough for it to be available in the UK.

“Decisions about the best course of treatment must be based on sound evidence of benefit — so it is important that patients talk to their physician about any alternative treatment they might consider.”

She added: “Thanks to continuous advances in research, there are still many new cancer drugs showing efficacy in clinical trials, offering potential options for people with cancer.

“But while regulators have improved the speed at which they assess them for routine NHS use, there are still, unfortunately, times when certain medicines are not easily accessible to people who might benefit from them. We understand how frustrating this can be.”

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