A dad who thought he had pulled a muscle playing golf was diagnosed with an incurable cancer.
Medics were unable to operate on Lee Young, 56, as the 8.5cm-long tumour was so close to his kidneys.
The garage owner, from Denton, Greater Manchester, said his “world collapsed around” him when he was diagnosed.
The tumour was found to be a secondary cancer with doctors being unable to discover the root cause of Lee’s disease, called cancer of the unknown primary (CUP), making it all the harder to treat.
Dad-of-three Lee was told, after the diagnosis, he would be “sent to The Christie Hospital (a large cancer treatment centre) to be made comfortable”.
But, as Manchester Evening News reports, his outlook changed at the hospital in January this year.
Lee said: “My world collapsed around me.
“Being told you have cancer is one thing, but being told they can’t do anything is another thing entirely. I couldn’t get my head around it, if you’re going to get a cancer, this isn’t a great one to get.
“I was scared to death and quite nervous, but the nurses at The Christie made me feel so welcome. In March, a clinical trial became available and it’s quite rare to be able to get on a clinical trial, but I thought if it doesn’t help me, it’ll help someone in the future.
“If we don’t have these trials, we wouldn’t be where we are today. And if mine is an unusual cancer today, maybe one day it will be a curable cancer thanks to this process.
“Now I feel like there’s no point in being sad over something you can’t control.”
Lee praised the positivity of staff and patients at the NHS hospital, which is in Withington, Manchester.
The phase II clinical trial called CUPISCO aims to understand whether personalised treatment options, with either targeted treatments or immunotherapy, can improve outcomes for certain CUP patients. Lee waited for the trial and – amazingly – his tumour has now shrunk by over half after three rounds of chemotherapy and the first round of immunotherapy.
The experimental treatment is taking place at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at The Christie.
Lee, who was diagnosed in October last year, added: “Less than half of CUP patients actually meet the criteria to be put on the trial, and I was one of the lucky ones.
Despite significant advances and new drug development, progress has been limited in CUP due to a lack of research and funding. Researchers at The Christie are trying to change this. The specialist cancer centre is one of the top global recruiters for the CUPISCO study.
In the hopes of raising money for The Christie, Lee has taken on the challenge of running the Manchester Half Marathon this weekend. Inspired by his daughter Aleisha who first decided to enter the race to support The Christie Hospital, the dad-of-three and husband said he would join her.
Lee says feels “fit and healthy” and is aiming to raise £3,000 for the cause – and has even inspired his doctors. Dr Natalie Cook, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Chief Investigator for the trial said: “Lee has responded well to the trial and it’s brilliant that he’s well enough to take on the half marathon.
The dad said: “Not only is he raising money for The Christie charity, which does vital work for patients and their families, but he’s also raising awareness of a relatively unknown type of cancer which needs more research and funding. He’s an inspirational man and I wish him and his daughter all the best for the day itself.”