A man with “everything to live for” plans to marry his soul mate later this year and become one of the “lucky three per cent who survive” after being told in August he had advanced colon cancer.
Given an 18-month prognosis, art technician Edward Lord, 36, refuses to give in and with the help of family, including his fiancée Katherine Vagg, 34, is fundraising for alternative medication to compliment his NHS treatment, as well as bringing his wedding day forward by a year.
Edward, of Harringay, north London, who proposed to Katherine, a special effects make-up artist, over Christmas and had planned to tie-the-knot in September 2022, said: “Cancer is not going to stop me from marrying Katherine.”
He added: “We’re not getting married because I’m giving up – it’s more positive than that.
“I want to live with cancer. I’m not going to die from cancer, I’m going to carry on living all the way through.”
Until his shocking diagnosis, life could not have been better for Edward.
Meeting Katherine through a mutual friend in June 2019, during a weekend away in Norfolk, he instantly fell in love and the couple moved in together in September 2020, before he proposed during the Christmas period.
He said: “I met Katherine through a mutual friend that I lived in a house share with.
“We all went on a weekend away to Norfolk and I think I fell in love with her that weekend. After a year and a half, we had moved in together and I had proposed.”
A few months after that, in April 2021, they bought their own home.
Edward said: “I’d been saving since I started working to buy my home, so we purchased our flat in April in Harringay north London.”
But, just as the future could not have looked more promising, in August 2021, Edward started to suffer with severe abdominal pains.
“It really started on August 8 this year,” he said.
“I started having severe abdominal pains on and off. So, after a weekend away on the Norfolk Broads with my family, I phoned my London GP.
“I was booked in for an ultrasound after she sent me to A&E, but on the day of my scan, I collapsed in the bathroom from the pain.”
Avastin is a treatment for certain cancers, such as colon cancer.
It is given by a slow injection into the vein.
Edward was quoted around £5,000 per month for the treatment.
He added: “My friend drove me to the hospital and doctors revealed from my ultrasound that the problem was in my liver.
“The next day, after a biopsy, the specialist said it looked like cancer.
“And on August 27 the doctors confirmed that I had colon cancer stage four. It had spread to my liver and I had multiple tumours.”
Told he had just a three per cent chance of ever going into remission, Edward was given a life expectancy of between six to 18 months.
“It’s extremely rare for someone my age to have a diagnosis like this,” he said.
“The tumour was in the wall of my colon, so I didn’t have any typical signs of colon cancer, which is why I had no symptoms until the abdominal pain.”
Persistent blood in your stools
Change in your bowel habits such as having to go more
Lower abdominal pain
He added: “I went to the pub after with my family and had some food and took it all in.
“Rather than feeling negative, I felt empowered. I heard a positive treatment plan and was keen to get started so I could fight this.
“I’d been given a three per cent chance of winning – not no chance at all.”
But just two weeks later Edward was rushed to A&E with severe pain in his side and was admitted to hospital.
“I went in with severe pain in my liver,” he said.
“I was given some morphine and treated, but the next day my other side started throbbing. It was just as bad as the pain in my liver.”
He added: “I was admitted with an infection in my gall bladder, which was causing inflammation to the tumours.”
Once the infection was treated, Edward started a 10 round course of chemotherapy in September 2021.
“I have had two rounds of chemo so far,” he said.
He added: “It leaves me feeling pretty rotten.”
In October 2021 Edward discovered he had the rare BRAFF mutation – meaning there were changes in the DNA of some cancer cells that can be treated with newer targeted therapies – and did not, therefore, qualify for NHS funded antibody treatment.
Rather than crumbling under the strain, Edward and his family are doing everything in their power to give him a fighting chance, raising a massive £54,000 through GoFundMe for non-NHS cancer treatments, such as Avastin, an antibody treatment used with chemotherapy.
Bowel cancer is the general term for cancer in the large bowel and is also called colon or rectal cancer.
Nine in 10 people with bowel cancer are over 60.
Edward, whose sister Kate Cranshaw, 37, a mental health nurse, started the GoFundMe page, said: “We started raising the money as soon as we could, as Avastin isn’t approved for this type of cancer, so we have to fund the treatment ourselves, which we were told costs around £5,000 per month.
“We were blown away when we hit our £30,000 target within 24 hours.
“We’re now raising £100,000 for other treatments, such as off label medications that block metabolic and signalling pathways of the cancer cells. I’m blown away by people’s kindness.”
He added: “I’ve spoken to a nutritionist, too, as I’m trying to give myself the best chance of beating this.
“If money is left over I want to use it to start a charity to help other people unable to afford treatment that is needed but not funded by the NHS.
“I’m going to give it everything. I’m remaining positive, because half the battle is in my head.”
He added: “Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. It’s like I’m in a dream world.”
As part of his vow to live life to its fullest, Edward is determined to marry Katherine.
He said: “Katherine is the most amazing person.”
Edward is currently raising money for off label medications that block metabolic and signalling pathways of the cancer cells.
He added: “She is everything I’ve ever dreamed of.
“From the moment we spent that weekend in Norfolk together I’ve been in love with her.
“We’re moving our wedding forward by a year. We haven’t pinned down a date, but we’re thinking somewhere between November 2021 and January 2022. ”
Thankful for the public’s kindness, Edward says the most rewarding part is having a new outlook on people and the world.
“There was a time where I was cynical about people,” he said.
“But this experience has changed my opinion as so many people have wanted to help.”
He added: “If I can look back one day when I’ve got through it and I’m in remission, I will be glad that it happened to me, because it has already made me a completely different person.
“I know how precious life is. And I know how precious friendship and a loving family is and I’ll be focusing on that for the rest of my life – not on my salary, or what job I do. None of that matters at all.”
To donate go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-edward-fund-life-saving-cancer-treatment