An Aberdeen offshore worker who has a type of cancer which is increasingly prevalent in Scotland is today (Tuesday, Feb 15) donating money to a new cancer research fund set up by his oncologist.
Nick Cook, a subsea construction engineer with E.ON Ruhrgas UK E & P Ltd, was diagnosed with oesophageal or gullet cancer in May 2009 after a spell of feeling unwell.
The following month the 56-year-old underwent chemotherapy treatment, followed by surgery and then radiotherapy before another gruelling round of chemo. Nick is now receiving palliative care for his cancer which is one of the most difficult cancers to treat.
Gastric (stomach) and oesophageal cancers are among the most rapidly rising types of cancer in Scotland and rates in Scotland are among the highest in the world.
While advances have been made in treatment to control gastroeosphageal cancer, cure rates remain low especially in comparison to other cancer types.
A patient with breast cancer has an eight out of 10 chance of completely beating the disease, compared with just one in 10 gastroesophgeal cancer patients. Gastrosophgeal cancer is seen as a priority area for medical research.
Nick and his wife Janice, who live in Aberdeen, decided to fundraise for the Grampian Gastroeosphageal Cancer Research Fund or GASTROCAN which was set up at the University of Aberdeen by Nick’s oncologist Dr Russell Petty to support local research work.
And Nick’s employer E.ON Ruhrgas was only too happy to help.
Janice said: “Nick has been treated so well it was a way of giving something back. Once we started fundraising, family, friends and our workmates really got behind us.”
E.ON Ruhrgas donated tickets for a day’s racing at Knockhill that were bid for at a blind auction. E.ON Ruhrgas, The Regus Group, Inn at the Park, Malmaison, Skene House, ADIL and Stewart Davidson also donated prizes for a raffle.
E.ON Ruhrgas then matched the funds raised by Nick and Janice to take the total being handed over to GASTROCAN today to £3,000.
Dr Petty, consultant medical oncologist at NHS Grampian and a clinical senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, is delighted at the donation.
He said: “I am extremely grateful that Nick thought to take the time to raise funds for research into gastroeosphageal cancer and it is tremendous that E.ON Ruhrgas have supported Nick and Janice’s efforts and matched the money they raised.
“All of their donation will go to GASTROCAN which was set up support local research efforts into this devastating disease.”
Dr Petty specialises in the treatment of gastroesophgeal cancer. He leads University and NHS Grampian research into the causes and treatment of the disease and set up GASTROCAN at the University to further this work.
He added: “Our research projects include clinical trials of the latest drugs for gastroesophageal cancer patients and investigations into the causes of gastroesophageal cancer.
“We are also looking at the symptoms of the disease and how patients and GPs react to them and we are also exploring how new imaging and scanning techniques can be used to improve how the best treatment for patients is selected.
“A key aim of all our research involves trying to develop tests called biomarkers to enable doctors to individualise cancer therapy for patients to optimise the chances of success and minimise side effects, rather than the current 'one size fits all' approach.
“It is thanks to donations like this we can continue our fight against this rapidly increasing disease.
The GASTROCAN fund has been used recently to support the establishment of the 'North of Scotland Upper Gastrointestinal Tumour Bank' which will be a key resource to support research into the disease.