A dying man has been given less than two years to live after doctors failed to detect his incurable brain cancer.
Matthew Collins, from South Wales, started suffering from thunderclap headaches in the summer of 2020 and was prescribed painkillers by his GP.
The 35-year-old then suffered seizures and, after a stay in hospital, was told he would face a wait of up to a year for an MRI.
After his symptoms continued to worsen and he suffered a stroke, he was eventually diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of rapidly growing brain tumor that can have a life expectancy of only 12 to 18 months from diagnosis.
While Collins underwent surgery to remove the tumor, he faces months of radiation therapy and treatment.
Collins, who used to work in communications at a university, is now fundraising in hopes of making £250,000 to pay for a potentially life-prolonging injection that is not available on the market. National Health Service.
Matthew Collins, 35, from South Wales, was diagnosed with brain cancer after suffering severe headaches and a stroke.
Pictured: Collins (right) with friends Richie Anderson (left) and Luke Bolch (center)
Collins began suffering severe headaches “like I had never experienced before” in July 2020.
He said they would cause 20 to 30 seconds of pain every 10 to 15 minutes.
“It felt like someone was hitting my head with a sharp object, but deep inside my head, like a bomb exploded,” he told MailOnline.
Worried, he went to see his family doctor, who told him to have an eye exam and prescribed naproxen, an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drug.
Mr Collins said: “I went to the opticians the next day and everything was normal. I was referred back to the GP.
What is the DCVax-L vaccine and how does it work?
Glioblastomas are the most aggressive form of brain tumor in adults and have devastating effects for those diagnosed, with an average survival time of around 12 to 18 months after diagnosis.
A study published in , found that in newly diagnosed glioblastomas, adding DCVax-L to standard chemotherapy offered patients almost three months more life on average, compared to temozolomide therapy alone.
DCVax-L has been developed by Northwest Biotherapeutics, a pharmaceutical company based in Maryland, USA.
It is created for each patient individually by isolating specific immune cells, known as dendritic cells, from the patient’s blood.
These cells are then primed with biomarkers or “antigens” from a sample of the patient’s tumor.
When the vaccine containing the cells is reinjected into the patient, the patient “shares” that information with the body’s immune system.
This allows the body to recognize the target and begin to attack.
Fountain: The Brain Tumor Charity
However, it was the weekend and before he could make an appointment, he suffered a tonic-clonic seizure, which causes muscles to stiffen and contract.
Collins was taken to Prince Charles Hospital but was discharged at 2am.
However, on the way home he suffered another seizure and returned to the ER. That night he had more seizures and was admitted to intensive care.
Collins underwent a CT scan and was discharged four days later, but was told the wait time for an MRI could be almost a year.
A month later, he woke up and couldn’t move the left side of his body.
He returned to A&E at Prince Charles Hospital and had another CT scan, which showed he had suffered a medium-sized hemorrhagic stroke.
As a result, he was left with slurred speech and complete paralysis of his left hand.
After insisting on an MRI, doctors told her that although her stroke had been “very large,” there was no evidence of underlying tumors or signs of an aneurysm.
On August 30, Collins was sent to Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda, a stroke rehabilitation unit, where he was sent home after two weeks for community rehabilitation.
But his headaches returned at the end of September.
This time, doctors at Prince Charles Hospital performed a CT scan to reassure themselves, but discovered a brain tumor, an abnormality that doctors were unable to detect in July.
A week later, the tumor was removed and he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive tumor that can form in the brain.
Around 2,500 people are diagnosed each year in the UK, while the figure is 12,000 in the US.
Collins credits his girlfriend Claire Hawk’s “annoyance” and concern for saving his life. In a blog post, she wrote: “It was Claire’s insistence that I return to the hospital after my stroke that led to the tumor being found.
“Without it, I would most likely be dead by now due to the amount of swelling and pressure they found in my head.”
Collins said she has suffered from depression and anxiety for most of her adult life, which has caused her to struggle with her relationships and her own self-esteem.
But now he believes it was caused by the brain tumor.
“Turns out the old tumor has probably been lying there dormant for years, pressing on the part of my brain where all my personality, emotion, and memory are stored,” he wrote.
Collins pictured with his girlfriend, Claire Hawk, who encouraged him to go back to the doctor after the headaches returned.
Mr. Collins (pictured center) with his school friend Ted (left) and Aimee Collins (right)
‘The tumor made me question my self-esteem, distance myself from my friends and family for years and isolate myself from the world, making me feel like I didn’t belong anywhere. It took up a lot of energy just trying to force myself to feel some joy in living life.’
Now Collins faces months of radiotherapy and treatment.
However, it has launched a Go to the Fund Me page hoping to raise £250,000 for a DCVax-L vaccine.
The vaccine is a type of immunotherapy. To make the vaccine, scientists combine cancer-killing cells, called dendritic cells, with proteins from brain tumor cells. The vaccine is expected to help the immune system recognize and destroy brain tumor cells.
Collins hopes Dc-VaxL will double its lifespan.
Collins said: “I don’t know exactly how long I will have left or what state of health I will be in as the cancer eats away at my body.”
‘Over time, it will invade the part of my brain that controls my vital organs and then shut them down. I can lose my vision or any of my senses at any time.’
The £250,000 would cover a lump sum of £75,000 to start the process of developing the personalized medicine, before spending £25,000 on the first three doses.
If successful, you will enter the “booster phase,” where you will receive three additional doses during the first year of treatment.
If the vaccine works for Collins, he will be given doses twice a year, bringing the total at the end of the second year to £200,000.
It will then cost him another £50,000 a year to continue fighting brain cancer. It means £250,000 could help Mr Collins stay alive for three years.
So far their fundraising has reached more than £28,000 in one week.
“If you can help in any way, I can’t express how grateful I, my family and my friends would be for giving me a fighting chance in life,” he said.