Donations flood in for Somerset musician fighting aggressive form of cancer

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 June 2017

Stephen and his girlfriend.

Stephen and his girlfriend.

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A 26-year-old Somerset musician, who has an aggressive form of cancer, has been handed a lifeline after generous people donated more than £100,000 to buy him a potentially life-saving drug which is not available on the NHS.

Stephen was conductor for Burnham and Highbridge band.Stephen was conductor for Burnham and Highbridge band.

Stephen Sykes has Hodgkins lymphoma, which attacks the immune system.

Following some seemingly swollen glands, and a series of trips to the doctors, Stephen was referred to an oncologist, who confirmed his worst fear.

Stephen, who plays for Burnham and Highbridge Band, has undergone chemotherapy since February 2015 which his mum says ‘has not touched it’.

Joanne Sykes told the Mercury: “He has had six lots of chemotherapy and some were more successful than others. They then realised the chemo was not touching it.

“At first they thought he was stage two but they soon saw he was actually stage four.

“He even had 40 hours of chemo at one stage. But the cancer continued to grow through it.

“They then discovered he needed a stem cell transplant as the cancer cells have become very clever.”

The PD1 Blocker drug can help Stephen as it activates the immune system to attack tumours. However, it is not available on the NHS.

He needs to use it for one year and it costs £7,000 a month to provide him with enough medication.

His mum Joanne set a £90,000 target to ensure the costs were covered.

This target was met in just 24 days, and Stephen is now feeling slightly better, but he will not recover until a stem cell donor is found.

As well as fundraising, Joanne has encouraged people to join the stem cell donor list due to the difficulty they have faced in finding a suitable match.

Joanne said: “This fundraising has given me something to focus on and people have been incredible.

“It has been a really tough few years, but he is now the most well he has been in 18 months.

“We have a long way to go, but it is so nice for him to have this period of feeling a bit better.

The idea is he will be well enough for the stem cell transplant.”

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