Race against time for Ilfracombe cancer sufferer

Ilfracombe couple Michele and Gary Marshall hope enough money can be raised to send him to America i

Ilfracombe couple Michele and Gary Marshall hope enough money can be raised to send him to America in a bid to save his life. - Credit: Archant

Couple vow to defeat deadly brain tumour by fund raising for treatment in the US.

AN Ilfracombe man who has been given less than a year to live and his wife are pinning their hopes on an alternative treatment available only in America.

The world of Gary and Michele Marshall was shattered in January when he was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant brain tumour and given six to 12 months to live.

On January 29 doctors at Derriford Hospital removed four fifths of the tumour in a six hour operation and a couple of days later they were told the devastating news.

Gary, 54, begins chemo and radiotherapy next week, but has been told this will only slow the fast growing cancer for a few months.

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“I just kept looking at the surgeon as he was telling us the prognosis and thinking, ‘I am not going to accept being told that my husband cannot be cured - I have to find someone who can help us’,” said Michele.

Determined to beat it, they have found the Burzynski Clinic in Texas, which offers hope to terminal cancer sufferers, but the cost is around £90,000 a year.

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Friends, family and even strangers have rallied around the couple, who have launched a race against time to raise the money.

It was a bolt from the blue for Gary and Michele, 53, who married in 2008 after meeting on an internet dating site and discovering they had both served in the Royal Air Force. Gary also served as a firefighter in Lancashire.

In December, the former John Fowler Holidays sales manager began experiencing co-ordination and balance problems.

Then, in January, Gary suffered a seizure while at North Devon District Hospital and a CT scan confirmed he had a tumour; then it was an agonising wait of more than two weeks for the operation and the dreadful news it was a malignant condition called glioblastoma multiforme.

“We both said, that can’t be it, we have to find something that can help us, so I looked on the internet and came across the Texas clinic,” said Michele.

“I was determined. I was not just going to think ‘this is it and they can’t cure him’. But Gary was amazing; he was just taking all the information in while I burst into tears.”

Gary says he is determined to be positive: “I have never once allowed the idea of six to 12 months to stick in my mind.

“I can’t say I don’t have dark moments, but I push them out and don’t allow the idea that this time next year I might not be here to take root. I am giving it everything I’ve got.”

The ‘antineoplaston therapy’ offered by the Burzynski Clinic has been called controversial by some and is not available in the UK, but some cancer survivors say they have been cured.

Examples include Laura Hymas from Kent, who was given six to 18 months to live, but saw her tumour eventually disappear after treatment.

Donations towards the treatment have already amounted to more than £2,300. His daughters Stephanie, 23 and Melissa, 19, are already busy helping, as is Michele’s son Shaun Crawford in London. Melissa is part of the Ilfracombe band Digital Natives and has a fund raising gig planned.

Michele’s friend Belinda Harris has pledged support and her friends, Jamie Stone and David Stratford have offered to complete the Two Moors Walk from Ivybridge to Lynmouth to raise money.

“People who don’t even know me have heard the story and now they want to help by giving their time or making a donation, it’s really amazing,” said Gary.

“I am not going to leave Michele - I am going to fight this with everything I have.”

Michele added: “We are so grateful to everyone for all the donations we have had so far, not just the money, but the knowledge that people are kind enough to help.”

If you would like to help Gary, you can donate by going to ‘Gary’s Brain Tumour Appeal’ at www.gogetfunding.com. To find out more about Gary’s story, contact the family or make a donation, go to www.garysjourney.net

* Click on the link to the top right of this story to go straight to Gary’s website.

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