A father of two has spoken about his uncertain future after he was diagnosed with a type of colon cancer that has a 50/50 chance of affecting his children as they age.
David Baxter, 40, married wife Vicky, 35, in 2019, and the couple welcomed their second daughter, Riley, on May 12 last year.
But a few months later, in September, Mr. Baxter, an electrical engineer, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.
Subsequent tests revealed he may have a condition called Lynch syndrome, an inherited colorectal cancer that strikes people before they reach their 50s.
Mr. Baxter has lost his sister Katharine Molloy, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 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 center and they gave me Buscopan,” he told Nottinghamshire Live.
“The Buscopan relieved the cramps until I lay double on the floor. I went back to the doctor and told them to look at me more because of my family history.
“I had a colonoscopy within two weeks. The doctor said I shouldn’t have been eating solids and that I had to go to the emergency room. Within a month I went from getting Buscopan to diagnosed with colon cancer.”
After undergoing his colonoscopy on September 8, Mr. Baxter underwent emergency surgery on October 1 to have his colon removed.
While doctors believe he has Lynch syndrome, he is now undergoing a full gene pool analysis to determine which Mismatch Repair (MMR) – in which cells have many DNA mutations that can lead to cancer – he has.
However, it will take him four months to know the results and his entire family can then be tested to see if they may have been affected.
David Baxter pictured with his children Brooke, 5, Riley, 12 months, and wife Vicky, 35 (Image: David Baxter)
Mr. Baxter, who lives in Nuthall, says he also lost his grandfather to colon cancer when he was 80 and his uncle when he was only 50.
He started chemotherapy but said he was “severely suffering” from his lack of a colon and decided to try immunotherapy treatment instead.
“I quit chemotherapy after six rounds instead of 12,” he added.
“I went to Guildford to do this and they recommended me to have this CT DNA test, so my blood was flown to America to see if there is any trace of microscopic cancer DNA. It can pick up cancer cells at 18 months. for the usual scans.
“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 immunotherapy drug, Nivolumab, helps your body locate and kill cancer cells and unlike chemotherapy, it does not tend to affect healthy cells.
Currently, Mr. Baxter cannot get the treatment from the NHS and it is part of a so-called ‘POLEM’ trial where the treatment helps activate immune cells and kill the cancer.
It is run by Dr. Tony Dhillon and can cost anywhere from £ 22,000, including £ 800 for the blood tests and £ 600 for each consultation.
Mr. Baxter has managed to fund the initial treatment through a fundraiser, but is in need of help again.
Because of the cost, his friend, Tom Baker, will walk 150 miles from London to Nottingham in a 10kg backpack for 10 days.
He said, “I’m sure we can all agree that the past 15 months have been pretty awful for everyone, but no one else I know has experienced what my good friends Dave, Vicky and family have been through.
“I would like to raise as much as possible for Dave in case he needs another course of immunotherapy. The final course costs £ 16,000, which is not reimbursed by the NHS for his cancer type or stage.
“If no additional treatment is required, the remaining money will be donated to a cancer research charity called Never Too Young.
“This charity was chosen because it helps raise awareness in younger people to understand the symptoms of cancer and thus promote early detection.
“This is something that Dave is very passionate about and already knows people who have had pre-cancerous polyps removed and had because of his situation.
“Indeed, Dave himself was only checked as early as he did because of what had happened to Katharine a few years earlier.”
You can donate to the fundraiser here.