A dad-of-two has spoken of his uncertain future after he was diagnosed with a type of bowel cancer which has a 50/50 chance of affecting his children as they grow older.
David Baxter, 40, married his wife Vicky, 35, in 2019 and the couple welcomed their second daughter, Riley, into the world on May 12 last year.
However, just a few months later in September Mr Baxter, an electrical engineer, was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer.
Subsequent tests revealed he may have a condition called Lynch Syndrome, a hereditary colorectal cancer that tends to affect people before they reach 50.
Mr Baxter has lost his sister, Katharine Molloy, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January of 2018. She died in November of the same year.
“I got some stomach cramps and it got worse over a three-day period, so I went to the walk-in centre and they gave me Buscopan,” he told Nottinghamshire Live.
“The Buscopan eased the cramps until I was on the floor doubled over. I went back to the GP and said they should be looking at me more because of my family history.
“Within two weeks I had a colonoscopy. The doctor said I should not have been able to eat solids and I had to go into A&E. Within a month I went from being given Buscopan to being diagnosed with bowel cancer.”
After Mr Baxter had his colonoscopy on September 8, he was rushed into surgery on October 1 to have his large intestine removed.
While doctors believe he has Lynch Syndrome, he is now undergoing a full gene-pool analysis to determine which Mismatch Repair (MMR) – where cells have many DNA mutations which can lead to cancer – he has.
However, it will be four months before he knows the results and his entire family can then be tested to see if they may be affected.
David Baxter pictured with his children Brooke, 5, Riley, 12 months, and his wife Vicky, 35
(Image: David Baxter)
Mr Baxter, who lives in Nuthall, says he also lost his granddad to bowel cancer when he was 80 and his uncle when he was just 50.
He first started out on chemotherapy but says he was “badly suffering” due to his lack of a large intestine and decided to try an immuno-therapy treatment instead.
“I stopped having chemotherapy after six rounds instead of 12,” he added.
“I went down to Guildford to do this and they recommended I do this CT DNA test, so my blood was flown out to America to see if there is any trace of microscopic cancer DNA. It can pick up cancer cells 18 months before usual scans can.
“I can then decide if I can relax and monitor it for the next three to five years or if I need more treatment.”
The immuno-therapy drug, Nivolumab, helps your body locate and kill cancer cells and does not tend to affect healthy cells unlike chemotherapy.
At present, Mr Baxter is unable to get the treatment on the NHS and it is part of a so-called ‘POLEM’ trial where the treatment helps activate immune cells target and kill the cancer.
It is spearheaded by Dr Tony Dhillon and can cost anywhere up to £22,000, including £800 for the blood tests and £600 for each consultation.
Mr Baxter managed to fund the first bout of treatment through a fundraiser, but needs help once again.
Because of the cost his friend, Tom Baker, will be walking 158 miles from London to Nottingham wearing a 10kg rucksack over 10 days.
He said: “I am sure we can all agree that the past 15 months have been pretty terrible for everyone but no-one else I know has gone through what my great friends Dave, Vicky and family have.
“I would love to raise as much as possible for Dave in case he needs another course of immuno-therapy. The last course cost £16,000, which isn’t covered by the NHS for his cancer type or stage.
“If no additional treatment will be needed any remaining money will be donated to a cancer research charity called Never Too Young.
“This charity has been chosen because it helps raise awareness in younger people to understand symptoms of cancer to aid early detection.
“This is something that Dave is very passionate about and already knows people who have been and had pre-cancerous polyps removed because of his situation.
“Indeed, Dave himself only got checked as early as he did due to what had happened to Katharine a few years previously.”
You can donate to the fundraiser here.