A dad with an incurable brain tumour has been given six months to live – after treatment was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Neil Matheson, 36, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) after an optician spotted an abnormality in 2018 and sent him to hospital.
The dad-of-one from Dundee had been treated with chemotherapy but medics wanted to try a different variety.
But Neil was told he needed to choose between going ahead with treatment and risking contracting coronavirus, or waiting until the infection rate had dropped.
In May it was found the tumour had spread to the back of his brain.
Chemotherapy began on August 7, but it was ineffective and he was given six months to live.
But Neil and wife Emoke, also 36, are hoping to raise £20,000 for alternative treatment which could give them more time together as a family, with daughter Isabelle, aged five.
Neil said: “The tumour is now interfering with my vision and I am blind on the left side of both my eyes and my peripheral vision has gone.
“I am struggling to walk too.”
The symptoms began in 2017, when Neil was suffering from seizures and debilitating headaches which were so bad he would sometimes pass out.
He said: “By spring 2018, I was experiencing more and more pain, to the point where I would drop to the floor in agony.
“My vision was also blurred, so I went for an eye test at Specsavers Opticians.
“During the appointment they discovered something abnormal in the back of my eye and they sent me to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for further tests.
“An MRI scan revealed an aggressive and incurable brain tumour.”
Medics managed to remove 100% of the tumour but the prognosis was just 12 to 18 months.
Emoke said: “The doctors told us that if we had waited just one more month, Neil would already have been dead.
“Luckily, they were able to operate and just two weeks later he was in theatre having eight-hour brain surgery to ‘debulk’ the tumour, which we were told was the size of an apple.”
The operation was followed by an intensive course of chemotherapy.
Neil managed five out of six cycles of treatment, after which he had some respite with several months of ‘stable’ scans showing no regrowth of the tumour.
But a week before the UK went into lockdown, the family received bad news.
Emoke said: “We received some really disappointing MRI results which showed the tumour was growing and doctors wanted to start him on a different type of chemo as soon as possible.
“As the hospital wasn’t licensed to use this alternative treatment, they had to wait for permission to go ahead.
“By the time permission was granted, the country was in lockdown and Neil was given the impossible choice of taking the treatment and risk contracting Covid, or postponing the treatment, thus increasing the risk of his tumour continuing to grow.
She added: “We are continuing to fight and have found a private clinic in London, which is willing to take Neil on a clinical trial.
“We are both only 36 and should be enjoying life as a family.
“We have tried to protect Isabelle from the whole truth of the situation but she is aware that her dad isn’t well and talks about the ‘monster’ in his head.”