PLAYING with the baby son he may never see grow up, doting dad Glen Cunningham is facing a desperate race against time.
The 29-year-old suffers from a rare form of cancer called gliosarcoma and has 10 brain tumours – but has been told by health chiefs they will not pay for a wonder drug.
It could give him precious extra time with 10-month-old son Glen, partner Yasmin Malik, 26, and his seven-year-old daughter, Lauren.
The drug – Avastin – is licensed by the Government and would cost about £33,600 a year for twice-monthly injections.
But Glen was told last week that South Tyneside Primary Care Trust (PCT) will not provide the cash.
Now he and his family are desperately trying to raise the money themselves.
The plasterer, of Borough Road, Harton, South Shields, said: “This is basically my last chance.
“I need to start taking the injections right away, I have no time to wait. But my survival now comes down to a few thousand pounds, that’s it, and I never thought it would come to this.
“The drug is not a cure, but it will hopefully prolong my life. If I could just try it for a few months, to show it’s working then, maybe, I could get the funding I need.”
Glen was diagnosed with cancer in December 2006 after he suffered a seizure.
He had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery in 2007, and went into remission for three years. But in September 2010, doctors discovered the tumour had returned and he needed more surgery.
At the start of 2011, the cancer was back and in April that year Glen went through gamma knife – a special type of brain radiation treatment.
Due to swelling in his head, doctors could not get clear MRI results and in October Glen’s eyesight started to deteriorate – suggesting something was wrong.
After more tests and surgery last November, medics found 10 tumours – with two being inoperable.
Glen’s family were told about Avastin, which stops tumours developing new blood vessels and can shrink them. Although Avastin is licensed and can be prescribed in the UK, it has not been approved for use by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) – which gives advice on which drugs should be made available to the NHS – because it considers the price too high for the extra benefit that it gives.
Yasmin said: “We’re all devastated. I don’t want to have to tell little Glen in a few years time that his dad’s not here to play football with him because someone decided he wasn’t worth a few thousand pounds.
“I want his dad here with him and if Glen can benefit from injections, it could be reality.”
A spokesman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, on behalf of South Tyneside Primary Care Trust, said: “An individual funding request is a request to a Primary Care Trust to fund healthcare for an individual who falls outside the normal range of services and treatments that the Trust has agreed to commission.
“The request is considered through an Individual Funding Requests process and in the event that a funding request is refused, individuals have the right to appeal against the decision.”