A father-of-two was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer after his symptoms were thought to be covid.
John McCallum, 35, from Haddington, East Lothian, called NHS 111 with stomach pain and a fever in May and was told to get a covid test – which came back negative.
A month later on Father’s Day the ‘agonising’ stomach pain returned at which point he took himself to hospital fearing it was a burst appendix.
Within 14 hours of being admitted Mr McCallum was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his bowel and rushed into surgery, at Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.
John McCallum, 35, from Haddington, East Lothian, called NHS 111 with stomach pain and a fever in May and was told to get a covid test – which came back negative
Despite the operation to remove the bowel cancer it has now spread to his liver, NHS doctors have told Mr McCallum that they are unable to operate again.
Mr McCallum, who works for HSBC, is now trying to fundraise £220,000 to pay for treatment in Germany, which involves using live donor liver transplants for bowel cancer patients who have been deemed inoperable.
He has had six months of the standard first line chemotherapy to try to reduce the tumour, but Mr McCallum and wife Lorna Forsyth, 31, are hopeful that the treatment not yet available in the UK can extend his life.
Mr McCallum said: ‘I’m a young athletic guy with no history of cancer in my family, no genetic inclinations, and I had no symptoms.
Mr McCallum with daughter Emma and wife Lorna Forsyth. The father-of-two has had six months of the standard first line chemotherapy to try to reduce the tumour
‘I phoned up NHS 111 and they said because I had a fever it may have been a sign of Covid. But my test came back negative and three weeks later the pain returned.
John McCallum and daughter Emma play golf
‘I thought it may have been a burst appendix so I went to hospital and 14 hours later I was on an operating table.
‘Six inches of my bowel was removed but the tumour had spread to my liver.
‘I wasn’t unwell and in May I was doing 5km runs to stay healthy.’
His wife has been in touch with a surgeon in Germany, and the couple will need to find their own liver donor before three ops are carried out.
The first surgery will involve transplanting the right hand side of the donor’s liver into Mr McCallum.
He will then need to wait for a few weeks to ensure his body does not reject the organ before then performing another surgery to remove the left side of his own liver.
He would need to spend seven weeks in Germany including aftercare, and it would cost 250,000 Euros.
So far nearly £35,000 has been raised by generous donors.
Mr McCallum said: ‘We found this type of surgery is available in the USA, which is probably too expensive and it’s in Norway too for tax paying Norwegian citizens so Germany was the best option.
The couple will need to find their own liver donor before three ops are carried out. John with Emma, three, and Ivy, one
‘This type of surgery I believe could be available in the UK in the next five years, but I don’t have that kind of time.
‘This operation has only been done on 10 people or so in Germany, there’s certain criteria you have to meet.
‘Lorna has been in touch with the surgeon in Germany who’s been very responsive to all her questions.
‘My wife has been amazing, she’s looked into this more than I have, and I’m focusing on staying positive and getting better.’
Mr McCallum has not been given a prognosis and medics have not told him the cancer is terminal.
So far nearly £35,000 has been raised by generous donors on the father’s Gofundme site
He has adapted his diet to cut out red meat, and is exercising in a bid to give him the best chance of beating the devastating illness.
Mr McCallum said: ‘If you look at me, you wouldn’t think I was a guy with stage 4 bowel cancer.
‘After chemo, I have a sore stomach and I feel fatigued, but at the moment I feel fine.
‘I feel a bit tired – but I think that’s maybe just something we’re all feeling with lockdown.
‘I’ve cut out red meat and sugar from my diet, I exercise regularly too, and it’s all to help for this surgery.
‘I don’t accept that I’m going to lose this fight.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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