More than £100,000 has been raised for private treatment to help a father-of-three from Scunthorpe battling a deadly brain tumour – and his wife has discussed her “anger” at the lack of treatment options in the UK.
Dave Hopkins, a 46-year-old former technician for an oil refinery, was diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour on September 1, 2020.
He and his wife Nicki have a nine-year-old daughter called Sydney, while Nicki is also stepmum to Dave’s two other children, Dylan, 24, and Lydia, 21.
Dave underwent a craniotomy at Hull Royal Infirmary, and the results of his biopsy confirmed he had a grade four glioblastoma multiforme.
Just 12% of brain tumour patients survive more than five years, and just 1% of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to the disease, despite more children and adults under 40 dying of brain tumours than any other cancer.
Six weeks of intense radiotherapy got under way and cycles of chemotherapy took place for five days every month, but his wife Nicki knew she had to find another form of treatment to save his life.
Nicki, also 46, found potential treatment at a clinic in Cologne, Germany which creates personalised immune therapy to strengthen a patient’s immune system.
After backing from various consultants, Nicki set up a crowdfunding page to help raise the £150,000 treatment costs from going private. The fundraiser now stands at over £111,000 at the time of reporting (donate here).
Nicki was left frustrated by the lack of options for her husband in the UK, but said the response to the fundraiser warmed her heart.
She said: “While I am hugely grateful to all our wonderful supporters, who’re engaging in all manner of fundraising activities, I am angry that brain tumour patients don’t have more options available to them on the NHS.
“It shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. There are so many different types and categories of brain tumour yet all patients seem to be offered the same archaic treatments.
“According to the diagnostics, none of the treatment offered to Dave was expected to work, due to the genetic profile of his tumour. Other countries, such as Germany, seem to be so much further ahead of us. It makes me so cross that crowdfunding feels like our only option.”
Nicki described the ordeal as a “rollercoaster” but is thankful for the response and support of local MP Holly Mumby-Croft, who earlier this year raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions, calling for government to work with Brain Tumour Research to help improve treatment options for patients like Dave.
She added: “We’re extremely grateful to have the support of our local MP and pleased to see that questions are being asked in parliament relating to vaccine therapies, like the one Dave is having to access privately but so much more needs to be done.
“It’s been an emotional month or so, as it’s now been one year since Dave’s shattering diagnosis. It’s hard to put into words what the last 12 months have been like but needless to say it’s been a rollercoaster. I admire Dave so much; he is strong, determined and never moans. Instead, he fights. His strength is unbelievable.
“His most recent MRI scan results were fairly positive. The treatment we are accessing in Germany, alongside chemotherapy and now vitamin C infusions and supplements, seems to be helping.”
Hugh Adams, head of stakeholder relations at Brain Tumour Research said: “We thank everyone at #TeamHopkins for their campaigning support and send our very best wishes to Dave as he bravely continues on his treatment journey.
“More must be done to develop treatments and improve outcomes for patients like Dave. We desperately need to increase investment in research into brain tumours, so that patients don’t have to resort to raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to access private treatment.
“It’s only through research that we will find more effective treatments for brain tumour patients and, ultimately, a cure.”