COLCHESTER: A 24-year-old who launched an appeal to pay for his life-saving treatment after the NHS wouldn’t fund it, is in remission from cancer.
Nathanael Lee was 21 and had just started his first job in January 2016 when he was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his neck, chest and spine. Despite undergoing four different types of chemotherapy and other treatment, by Christmas Nat, from Wren Close, Colchester, was told his only hope was a drug which stimulates the immune system to fight the cancer.
The drug, Nivolumab, was not available on the NHS for Hodgkin’s patients because of the cost, so Nat launched an appeal to raise the £50,000 needed.
Now, almost three years after Nat’s terrifying diagnosis, he has been told he is cancer free. “My initial reaction on being told I am in complete remission is relief. Throughout this ordeal, I have tried to get on and live my life, but this is a huge boost and such wonderful news,” he said.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am to everyone who has supported me and who answered my call for help by donating to the appeal or fundraising; it has been overwhelming. My Mum, family, including my three sisters, and my girlfriend Emily have been incredible. The kindness of family, friends and complete strangers helped to save my life.”
Nat, a former pupil of St Benedict’s Catholic College and Colchester Sixth Form College, studied Mathematics at the University of Reading. He refused to be beaten by cancer and launched his appeal on New Year’s Eve 2016.
Just a week later, the target was achieved and within the month his treatment started with Nivolumab. When he was well enough, in June 2017, Nat had a stem cell transplant from an anonymous donor and this has improved his long-term chances of avoiding a relapse.
Despite his gruelling treatment, transplant, spinal surgery and an operation to remove his appendix, Nat has continued to work, even passing seven accountancy exams since his diagnosis.
Through donations, fundraising and sponsored events, Nat’s appeal has raised more than £79,000, smashing its initial target. All funds remaining after Nat’s treatment has been paid for will help other young cancer sufferers through The Tom Bowdidge Foundation which has supported him and his family.
The Tom Bowdidge Foundation charity was founded on 28th February 2014 and launched by Tom’s parents, Richard and Nikki on what would have been his 20th birthday.
Tom died of a desmoplastic small round cell tumour and extensive peritoneal disease in October 2013, at the age of 19. The Foundation’s goal is to raise funds to support research projects and to provide physical and emotional support to teenagers and young people with cancer.
Donations to Nat’s fundraising appeal can be made online at Virgin Money Giving.