Posted 19th July 2019
As a healthy 49 year old successful business owner and family man, the last thing John Evans was thinking about was a cancer diagnosis just before his milestone 50th birthday.
“I was just tired” John explains about the symptoms that made him visit his GP. But what seemed like a routine doctor’s appointment soon escalated into John being diagnosed with a 22cm tumour on his right kidney. The tumour had already spread to his liver and lungs by the time he was diagnosed.
“I just wanted to face it head on. There were up and down moments during the early stages but I wanted to be practical. I started planning my funeral, getting my finances in order and my wife Rebecca and I brought forward our plans to downsize our home.”
John was introduced to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre where he learnt the cancer was serious and life threatening. Without treatment, his cancer would continue to grow, making him extremely ill, with only a matter of months left to life.
However, John and his family were offered a lifeline. Treatment options at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre have improved for metastatic kidney cancer. Although John’s illness remains incurable, the team were confident they could improve his health and prolong his life with the help of a clinical trial.
Lead by Dr Richard Griffiths and his team at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre Research and Innovation Department, John began a trial in immunotherapy, a treatment designed to enhance the resistance of the immune system. The trial involved using two immunotherapy drugs; Ipilimumab and Nivolumab. Immunotherapy drugs are already proving to be very effective in other types of cancer, such as skin cancers and lung cancer. They can have very minimal side effects compared to chemotherapy.
“The process was relatively simple. Every two weeks, I’d go in to the centre on a Monday for a blood test and on a Tuesday, I’d come along to receive the drug through a drip. I was done within a few hours and could carry on my day.”
Having responded well, John is now receiving the treatment monthly with regular scans to monitor progress.
“I simply wasn’t sure what to expect from the trial. But apart from a few minor bumps in the road, I’ve managed to carry on living my life. Rebecca and I have been on holiday, we’re planning on moving house and I celebrated my 50th birthday in our favourite restaurant with 130 family and friends, including Dr Griffiths and the team from Clatterbridge.”
Instead of presents, John asked for donations and his party raised over £6,500 for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, the centre’s designated charity that supports the care of cancer patients from across Merseyside and Cheshire. The family have also raised over £1,700 for the charity with Rebecca, the couple’s daughter Grace and John’s sister Rose taking part in a challenging tri-athlon.
Thanks to the trial and the improvement in his health, John and Rebecca are looking forward to the future. “The team treat you like a normal person; a friend, rather than a patient. You’re treated with the utmost respect. I don’t think you’d find better care than at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.”