A “fit and healthy” young man was told he was just days away from slipping into coma after developing painful headaches – and has now been told by doctors his tumour is inoperable.
Oliver Cooper-Grace, 23, was left bedbound and off work after getting unexplained, strong headaches and nausea.
It eventually led to a diagnosis of a Grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumour in June, last year.
The lifelong Everton fan and season ticket holder from Merseyside visited his doctor’s surgery on a number of occasions for the pain.
One GP told him to take paracetamol for his sinuses while another treated him for cluster headaches.
Oliver called NHS 111 on June 10 last year after being sick during the night and was told to go straight to A&E.
Oliver had an MRI scan at Aintree University Hospital ‘s A&E department, where he was given the devastating news he had a huge mass on his brain.
And a doctor added if the 23-year-old did not undergo surgery, he would be in a coma “in a few days”.
Oliver’s mum Sharon, 51, said: “We were told there was a mass on his brain and there was a lot of swelling. Our world suddenly changed – Oliver was healthy, he liked going out with his friends and watching Everton. We just weren’t expecting something like this.”
Speaking previously, Oliver said: “Being diagnosed with a brain tumour actually came as a relief. I had realised something was seriously wrong, so understanding what it was and being told what treatment I would expect was good to know.”
Oliver had surgery two days later on June 10 where surgeons removed 70 per cent of the tumour.
Oliver, who is on long-term sick leave from his job as a support worker for people with learning disabilities, said: “I’d been told there was a risk that surgery could affect my speech and mobility, so it felt incredible when they were fine when I came around.
“I felt a sense of relief knowing what had been making me feel so unwell. It has been scary, but I’ve just got to get on with it.”
Oliver started radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, with the chemotherapy leaving him “battered and fatigued”.
But in December last year, he was dealt another blow when an MRI scan revealed the tumour had grown.
“That was horrible to hear because, even though all of that effort had been put in, it was still growing,” he added.
Surgeons managed to remove a further 20 per cent of the tumour at the start of this year during an awake craniotomy. But in July the support worker’s hope turned into disappointment as an MRI scan again showed the tumour had grown.
And this time, he was told that further surgery would not be an option because of the sensitive location of the tumour. After two operations and various treatments, Oliver was told there were no alternative treatments available on the NHS.
The family began researching brain tumours and found out about immunotherapy vaccines in Germany, which are not offered by the NHS. They are also working with Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of Oliver’s disease.
Sharon added: “These vaccines help the immune system to recognise and attack hostile cells, and prevent them from growing back. It’s a lot more advanced than anything that is offered on the NHS. I find it shocking and frustrating that it’s not available in the UK. There is something that might be able to help but we can’t access it.
“This treatment is very expensive and requires regular travel to Germany. It is a huge amount of money for one family to fund. We are relying on the kindness and generosity of others to help Oliver fight this cancer.”