Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms
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Geoffrey Seymour was blindsided by his stage 4 bowel cancer diagnosis at the age of 41. He was in good shape: tennis, basketball and cricket were some of his favourite pastimes. Then, two weeks before his 41st birthday, he noticed something wasn’t right.
In April 2021, Geoffrey noticed blood in his stools. After spotting the change, Geoffrey decided to visit his GP, as he knew it could be a symptom of cancer.
In late March at Kingston Hospital, he was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer, which had metastasized in the liver.
Geoffrey said: “I’ve always looked after myself, so to get the diagnosis was huge.
“It was like being wrapped in a paper bag that’s on fire, but I’ve always had the knack of being able to find my way out of tricky situations and never giving up is just my thing.”
Geoffrey became despondent. Struggling to come to terms with the reality that he could no longer keep up the pace of an active life, he said: “Not having the energy to do what I want to do is the biggest real smash of it.
“Because I’m just not used to not doing anything – I’m not used to being the kind of guy that has to go and relax, or have a nap even. I want my son to feel as though he can be a little boy and be cheeky and naughty, and do the things that he likes to do without having to worry about me.
“I think there are moments where he feels really sad and worried, I speak to him a lot, I’m very open about the condition of me and how it is actually doing. I keep trying to reassure him that everything is going to be alright. And yeah, I think, if you try to think like that enough, I guess it becomes your truth.”
After the diagnosis, in March 2021, he had five cycles of chemotherapy every three weeks which initially reduced the lesions in his liver.
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Geoffrey said: “At this point I had good energy and was very optimistic.”
In December 2021, he had surgery to have a third of his liver removed, and the medical team began getting him ready for radiotherapy which was going to be used on his colon – he even had radio markers tattooed for the laser alignment.
A month later, a scan showed more tumours in his liver, so he had another round of chemotherapy.
This time it was a success and liver surgery was booked in for June 2022.
But, just as things were looking up, a few weeks before the surgery, a scan revealed disease progression.
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 disease progression again, all while the side effects were getting unbearable for Geoffrey.
He said: “The side effects have gotten worse, worse, worse, and now, chemotherapy is just not effective anymore, the body’s gotten used to it.”
The treatment severely blistered the skin on his face and, according to Geoffrey, made him look like Freddy Krueger from the 1984 horror film, Nightmare on Elm Street.
Explaining why he reacted adversely to a chemo, he said: “Essentially it kills all your fast-growing cells, which include your cancer cells, but also includes your hair and nails. I had a really bad reaction to that in my face.”
Desperate to seek an alternative treatment, Geoffrey has travelled to Germany for dendritic cell therapy – where a personalised vaccine is created in a lab with the aim of stimulating the immune system.
Research in this area is in its infancy, according to Cancer Research UK, and so the treatment was not cheap – just one injection in Germany, on October 17, cost £17,000 and Geoffrey is now waiting to see if it was enough to help him, while continuing to fundraise to pay for it.
To donate to Geoffrey’s GoFundMe, visit: www.gofundme.com/f/geoff-vs-cancer
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