In August 2016 Aaron was diagnosed with a rare cancer called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue and bone cancer at just 28 years old.
After being misdiagnosed for so long by the time the cancer was detected behind his left cheek it had already spread throughout the soft tissue and bones in his body. We were told the cancer is very rare, extremely aggressive and incurable at this late stage. They told us that the visible tumours weren't the only problem, as if things could get any worse, Aarons body would be full of cancer cells that are simply too small to show up on the scans until they grow into larger tumours. The cancer usually has a good initial response to treatment, but then tends to spread and grow quickly again afterwards. We did not ask for a time frame but have repeatedly been told it is extremely aggressive and fast growing.
Aaron has already been through 15 months of gruelling treatment. He underwent one of the harshest chemotherapy regimes that exists, alongside 6 weeks of radiotherapy to his head, neck and spine. The side effects of this treatment were severe and led to many more weeks in the hospital hooked up to drips, pain relief and a feeding tube in order to recover. His throat and mouth were visibly burnt from the radiotherapy meaning he could no longer eat and some days couldn't even speak. Throughout all of this he maintained a positive attitude and never stopped making us and the nurses laugh. The treatment worked well and we had a brief period where there was very little cancer left at all. If Aaron had not responded so well to this treatment it is highly unlikely that he would still be with us today. Unfortunately this quiet spell did not last long. His cancer grew and spread almost as soon as he stopped the first chemotherapy, causing further painful and life threatening complications and reminding us this isn't a long term solution for him. He is currently undergoing more chemotherapy which is working to keep the cancer stable and improving at the moment but won't last forever and makes him very ill.
Although Aaron is doing relatively well the treatment currently available to him on the NHS is not a long term solution. The cancer is aggressive and has a very high return rate, as we have already seen chemo and radiotherapy won't stop this. We believe his only chance at long term survival is a treatment called immunotherapy. Unfortunately this treatment is very costly and must be obtained privately. This type of treatment is becoming commonplace in other countries and has proven to be very promising for Aaron’s type of cancer, but the rarity of rhabdomyosarcoma means that it likely won’t be available on the NHS for some years. We hope Aaron can find success with this treatment, paving the way for others to be able to obtain it in the UK. Although the doctors have told Aaron his cancer is terminal, we will never give up hope and strongly believe if he can get this treatment it will give him many more years with the people he loves. It is for this reason we must ask for help in this stressful time. Any contribution made will be spent on treatment that has been chosen as a result of many weeks of research and professional advice. We believe this will be critical in saving Aarons life.