Man Is Now Fighting For His Life After Waking Up And Smelling 'Burning Rubber'
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A 34-year-old man has been left fighting for his life following a diagnosis which began when he woke up and smelled burning rubber.
Alex Savage, from The Wirral, was living in Australia with his fiancée Anna and working as a volunteer lifeguard on Bondi Beach when he woke up one day last August to the strange smell.
The scent left him convinced his house was on fire, but Anna couldn't smell anything and consequently encouraged Alex to go and see his doctor. After being referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist, Alex had an MRI scan which revealed a mass on his brain.
The 34-year-old underwent surgery and learned he had a brain cancer known as glioblastoma. It's the same disease which took the life of former MP Tessa Jowell, whose death inspired her daughter Jess Mills to co-found the Tessa Jowell Foundation to fund brain cancer research.
Speaking to the Sun Health about his diagnosis, Alex explained: "The horrible thing about glioblastoma is that it grows with microscopic tendrils, so while my surgeon was able to get what he could see — and an eighth of my entire brain too — there’s no guarantee it won’t come back."
The surgeon removed a 'huge chunk' of tissue surrounding the tumour, which made up about a quarter of the right side of his brain, but was told the left side would 'pick up the slack' lost by the operation.
Alex had hopes to marry and have kids, but acknowledged the average life expectancy for those diagnosed with glioblastoma is 14 months. He is currently in the midst of a 12 month program of chemotherapy, which involves taking chemo drugs for five days before having a 23-day rest. He has just finished the final day of his eighth cycle, and thankfully hasn't yet experienced too many debilitating side effects.
“I know some live longer, some survive and I’m responding well to treatment at the moment, but despite everything, I feel lucky. The treatment I’m being given is working, but doesn’t for everyone," he explained.
Alex returned to the UK to be close to his family and is now being treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London - a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence.
The Tessa Jowell Foundation uses funds to coordinate the activity of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, which aims to transform brain cancer care across the NHS.
Jess said her mum started the campaign, which uses the hashtag '#TurnUpForTessa', in the last four months of her life, describing her as a woman with a 'campaigning spirit and a campaigning heart'.
Alex has made clear he feels fortunate to have access to such good care at his hospital, but stressed that everyone diagnosed should have the same access.
“Gold-star standards and treatments should be available across the UK," he explained. "When you’re diagnosed, you don’t want to have to research a hospital that’s good, you want the same level of care everywhere. #TurnUpForTessa will fundraise to make sure everyone diagnosed has the same chances of survival — nothing is more important than that.”
The campaign's latest fundraiser is taking place on 27 July, when cinemas across the country will show a newly edited version of Danny Boyle’s opening and closing London 2012 ceremonies, which Tessa helped make happen as Culture Secretary.
Proceeds from tickets bought for the event will go to the Tessa Jowell Foundation, which is working in partnership with the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission.