Matthew Collins says his only hope is a £250,000 tumour-killing injection – but it is not available on the NHS so the Welshman is crowdfunding to extend his life
A man who experienced thunderclap headaches and was prescribed painkillers has now been diagnosed with a terminal cancer.
Medics failed to spot Matthew Collins’ brain tumour when he first complained of the headaches and instead he was given painkillers, but within days suffered seizures.
Following a stay in hospital, Mr Collins was told he faced a wait of up to one year for an MRI scan. His symptoms continued to worsen and, after he suffered a stroke, he was eventually diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of fast-growing brain tumour that can carry a life expectancy of just 12 to 18 months from diagnosis.
While Mr Collins has had surgery to remove the tumour, he faces months of radiotherapy and treatment. However, a tumour-killing injection, called the DCVax-L vaccine, would prolong his life – but it isn’t available on the NHS so now Mr Collins is crowdfunding to secure this.
Mr Collins, who used to work in communications at a university, first went to see his GP, who told him to get an eye test and prescribed naproxen, an anti-inflammatory drug and painkiller, in July 2020. As the headaches persisted, Mr Collins went to see his optician and was referred back to his GP.
“It felt like someone was hitting my head with a sharp object, but deep within my head, like a bomb going off,” the communications professional, from Aberdare, south Wales, told Mail Online.
But before Mr Collins’ could make a further appointment to see his GP as it was the weekend, he suffered a tonic-clonic seizure — which causes the muscles to stiffen and twitch. Mr Collins was taken to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales but was discharged at 2am.
However, on the way home, he suffered another seizure and he returned to A&E. That night, Mr Collins had more seizures and was admitted to intensive care. Mr Collins had a CT scan and was discharged four days later, but was told the wait time for an MRI scan could be almost a year.
A month later, he woke up and was unable to move the left side of his body. He went back to A&E at Prince Charles Hospital and had another CT scan, which showed he had had a medium-sized haemorrhagic stroke. As a result, he was left with slurred speech and complete paralysis of the left hand.
After insisting on an MRI, Mr Collins was told by doctors that, although his stroke had been “very large”, there was no evidence of an underlying tumours or sign of an aneurysm.
On August 30, Mr Collins was sent to Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda, a stroke rehabilitation unit, where he was sent home after two weeks for community rehab. His headaches returned at the end of September though.
This time, medics at Prince Charles Hospital performed a CT scan for reassurance, but discovered a brain tumour — an abnormality medics failed to spot in July.
A week later, he had the tumour removed and was diagnosed with Glioblastoma — the most aggressive tumour that can form in the brain. Around 2,500 people are diagnosed every year in the UK.
Mr Collins credits his girlfriend Claire Hawk’s “nagging” and concern for saving his life. In a blog post, he wrote: “It was Claire’s nagging for me to get back to hospital after my stroke that led to the tumour being found.
“Without her, I’d more than likely be already dead because of the amount of swelling and pressure they found in my head.”
Now Mr Collins faces months of radiotherapy and treatment but the jab, a type of immunotherapy, would extend his life significantly.
“I don’t know exactly how long I’ll have left, or what state of health I’ll be in as the cancer eats away at my body. Eventually, it will invade the part of my brain that controls my vital organs and then it will shut them off. I may lose my vision or any of my senses at any moment,” Mr Collins added. Mr Collins has set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise the funds. You can donate to it by clicking here.