A personal fitness trainer has been given just 18 months to live after a bungling doctor misdiagnosed a cancerous tumour – as a pulled MUSCLE.
Stuart Brookes, 30, was examined by a junior doctor in 2008 after noticing a lump behind his right knee.
The junior GP at a walk-in centre in Selly Oak, Birmingham, dismissed his fears and reassured Stuart had pulled a muscle.
But the lump grew to the size of a fist and it took doctors another four years to correctly diagnosis it as cancer after Stuart underwent an MRI scan.
He was told he had metastastic myxoid liposarcoma, a rare tissue cancer. Surgeons were able to remove the growth in March 2013 but some cancerous cells remained.
Last November Stuart, who lives in London with his girlfriend Alina Ispavskaya (corr), 34, was told the cancer had spread to his hip, spine and pelvis.
Tragically, he was told a clinical trial which aims to shrink tumours of this nature by using the body’s own immune system, is only available in America at a cost of #150,000.
Yesterday (Tues), he said: “The doctor said I had pulled a muscle, but I wasn’t convinced.
“I argued with him at the time. I told him it was not a pulled muscle.
“I had had plenty of pulled muscles before as I played a lot of sport. I would have known if it was a pulled muscle.
“It was a junior doctor, he was only a kid but I had to accept what he told me. I left and just trusted what he’d told me.
“The lump gradually started to grow, it didn’t hurt but it niggled. I just lived with it. It did not hinder me really and I continued with my life and work.
“In the end the lump was almost the size of my fist.
“I do wonder if things would have been different if the cancer had been found earlier.
“If you catch it earlier, you have much more chance of being cured.
“It was a very significant amount of time before I was diagnosed.
“I am sure that the longer it went on the more I suffered and more difficult it was to diagnose and treat.”
Stuart was finally diagnosed after he went to another GP in Northfield, Birmingham, in July 2012 after suffering leg pain and an MRI scan revealed it was cancer.
He started a gruelling five week course of radiotherapy before having surgery to remove the tumour in March 2013 at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
Surgeons cut through the back of his leg and lifted up parts of his hamstring to remove the tumour.
He said: “I was told it was completely curable. It was a bit worrying as I was going into the unknown but I was mainly concerned about how it would affect my leg, and my job as a personal trainer.
“To be honest, I was worried if there would be scar tissue, and whether I would be crippled afterwards.”
But last July, Stuart, originally from Birmingham, noticed lumps on his left leg and upper back.
In November an MRI scan showed the stage 4 cancer had returned and had now spread to his hip, spine and pelvis. He was told he had 18 just months to live.
He said: “It felt as though two or three people were trying to prepare me to die.
“One said, ‘we can make you feel as good as we can for as long as possible’.
“My GP asked me what I wanted to do with my time. I didn’t want to sit and make a bucket list.
“They didn’t even given me any advice about diet – they told me I could eat whatever I wanted. Even for a healthy person, that isn’t good advice.
“I didn’t want to sit and dwell, I want to fight it, so I asked for a new team.”
Stuart is now trying to raise £150,000 for a clinical trial in America after he was told the treatment is not available on the NHS.
The trial involves cancer patients being given a vaccine in a bid to trigger the body’s immune system into fighting the cancer cells.
To donate to Stuart’s fund to help him take part in the trials, visit: www.supportstuart.co.uk.