Scots dad-of-two fundraising for “only chance” of survival treatment


A SCOTS dad-of-two is fundraising for his “only chance” of survival treatment after being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer on Father’s Day last year.

John McCallum and his family are trying to raise £220,000 pounds to pay for a clinical trial in Germany that has worked with patients who have been deemed inoperable.

The 35-year-old from Haddington, East Lothian was unexpectedly diagnosed with the disease on 21 June last year after being in hospital for suspected appendicitis.

Instead of a burst appendix, surgeons found a large tumour in his bowel that had caused a perforation.

Scots Dad starts fundraiser to survive cancer - Scottish News
John with daughter Emma, 3, and wife Lorna

Despite doctors removing the tumour, it spread to his liver resulting in John having to undertake six months of grueling chemotherapy sessions.

The family have now set up a GoFundMe page to raise enough money for life-saving treatment in Germany after being told by UK medics that his liver won’t be operable.

Speaking today, John, who used to work for HSBC, said: “It came totally out of the blue – I had some pain in my gut in May last year.

“The pain continued for weeks and ended up really intense – within 14 hours of being in the hospital I had a 6-8 hour surgery.

Scots Dad starts fundraiser to survive cancer - Scottish News
John with Emma, 3, and Ivy, 1.

“They removed a tumour – but it had spread to my liver.

“Prior to this, I was running 5K a day – I played American football and rugby.

“Nobody has ever had cancer in my family.”

John previously played for Forrester Rugby Club and American football team the Edinburgh Wolves.

John faces another two months of chemotherapy before he can be considered by the German clinic for the surgery.

He says he will be keeping himself as healthy as possible until then.

The operation utilises live donor liver transplants, something that is not currently undertaken in the UK.

John will undergo two surgeries in the process of transplantation, one to remove his old liver and then another to install the new one.

John’s wife Lorna, 31, launched the fundraising page on Sunday, writing: “Please, please help us to keep John here with his girls.

Scots Dad starts fundraiser to survive cancer - Scottish News
As of today, the fundraiser is over £34,000.

“This whole experience has been made so much harder due to Covid-19 and not being able to see our friends and family much.

“We long to have our normal lives back and for this to be a distant memory.

“I found out about a clinical trial in Germany that is using live donor liver transplants for bowel cancer patients that have previously been deemed inoperable. This could be John’s only chance.

“He needs to have stability on his next two months of chemotherapy and the window will be very narrow.

“This type of surgery is not currently undertaken in the UK for bowel cancer patients, so the oncologists don’t know much about it. But any chance is one worth taking.”

In two days, the page has already raised a whopping £34,000.

Donators have been leaving comments of support towards the family.

Scots Dad starts fundraiser to survive cancer - Scottish News
Go fund me users sent John well wishes on his page.

Ros Petfield said: “Good luck, I hope you get to Germany.”

Catherine Bell posted: “Hope you receive the treatment you need.”

Georgia Ndah commented: “Best of luck to you and your family.”

Speaking on the amount of support, John said: “It’s been absolutely amazing to see strangers share it and just the effort from people.

“It’s crazy, it is surreal.

“To see it take off is just amazing.”

According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 16,600 bowel cancer deaths in the UK every year, which equates to 45 every day.

From 2015-2017 there were 42,317 new cases of bowel cancer from 2015-2017.

You can donate to John’s gofundme here.