Grandad pays £80k for cancer treatment which is working - but needs to find another 40k

Craig Shore has a dream. To take his grandson Archie to watch Manchester City play. But first he has to face a fight which hundreds of family, friends, and complete strangers are helping him win.

Since December they have helped him raise the lion's share of £80,000 for two courses of treatment at The Christie Hospital in Withington. The treatment is working for Craig, 52, but he needs a third session.

The Manchester University engineer from Glossop, was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer, for which standard chemotherapy has just an eight per cent chance of success. But the specialised treatment - known as chemosaturation - recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which develops guidance about procedures for the health service, is not being funded by the NHS.

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In the innovative technique of chemotherapy the liver is "bathed" in drugs. It can extend the life of patients by years. It was pioneered in the UK at University Hospital Southampton.

Two small balloons divert blood past the liver for an hour, essentially cutting it off from the rest of the body while doctors deliver high doses of chemotherapy drugs directly to it. Craig said: "It is like having ten times the normal dose of chemotherapy going direct to my liver."

The technique allows doctors to administer much larger doses than patients would normally receive because the drugs do not enter the bloodstream and cause damage to healthy parts of the body.

Craig's ordeal began when his vision became cloudy and after multiple tests he was sent to St Paul's Eye Unit in Liverpool in mid-2021. There, he was given the devastating diagnosis - uveal melanoma, a rare type of cancer occurring in the tissues of the eye.

Around 750 cases of ocular – or uveal – melanoma are diagnosed in the UK every year and around 50 percent of these lead to a secondary cancer, known as metastases. This occurs in the liver in more than 85 percent of patients, but limited treatment options available on the NHS mean just 10 per cent to 25 per cent survive for a year after their diagnosis.

Craig's eye was taken out and markers were placed on the back of his eye to track the cancer. He then began a course of proton beam therapy at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in the Wirral.

His family, including Craig's partner Michelle, his two stepchildren and his 10-month-old grandson, Archie, were overjoyed in July 2023 when he got the all clear. But within weeks that joy was shattered.

Tests which formed part of research he agreed to take part revealed that Craig's cancer had spread to his liver.

"I am in the process of having chemosaturation treatment. I have had two courses in February and April that cost £40,000 per cycle. There are other things on top of that like having a scan and seeing consultants. I would estimate so far it has cost about £83.000.

"My wife has organised a gofund me page and we have used savings. I am waiting for my next scan which will be three months after my last treatment to see how it has gone. I am currently getting the funds together for my third treatment. Friends have fundraisers ongoing and a local pub and a restaurant in Glossop are holding a race night and Rod Stewart tribute act to help raise money.

"I have had some results which indicate the chemosaturation is working. But because it is so hard to detect it is difficult to put into context how well it is working. I asked for an explanation in layman's terms and was told by my interventional radiologist there had been a reduction in the size and number of visible tumours in my liver. Initially there were nine tumours and he said it had gone to five.

"I will have to take a month off work after the next treatment but I have been physically fine. I have contacted NHS England about the injustices of some cancers being treated and some not and just had a generic response.

The chemosaturation therapy has been found to be effective in almost 90 per cent of patients, according to national charity OcuMel UK which supports patients affected by the cancer. The charity says that despite this success and being highlighted as a treatment option by NICE in 2021, the NHS is still refusing to fund its use.

In a study published in the journal Melanoma Research, researchers found liver cancers were controlled in 88.9 per cent of patients who had received chemosaturation therapy, with 62 per cent of patients surviving for a year and 30 per cent after two years.

Craig said: "One person on Ocumel UK posted they had had three treatments (of chemosaturation) and three and a half years down the line it has not got rid of the tumours but they are all inactive.

Craig, a life-long Blue, said:"I am very grateful for the generosity of complete strangers as well as family and friends. On the Gofund Me page I must have had 800 very kind donations - most of those people I don't know."

Doctor Jon Bell, son of Manchester City legend Colin, and an interventional radiologist at The Christie is one of several campaigning for chemosaturation to be made available on the NHS.

A message written for Archie on the gofundme page says: "Please save my grandad.....I’m not even one years old yet and if he doesn’t get the treatments he needs then all I will have of him is photos, he loves his beloved Manchester City and I want him to be able to take me to my first football match and make more memories and for him to be able to hear me say his name one day."

The family's campaign has even been supported by award-winning actress, Dame Helen Mirren, whose stepson died from uveal melanoma in 2022. The actress has been vocal ever since about the disease, encouraging people to get their eyes checked yearly, and donated a personalised jacket to Michelle to help fundraising efforts.

Dame Helen Mirren. Image Matt Crossick/PA Wire
Craig Shore and his grandson, Archie.

A spokesperson for the NHS told the M.E.N.: “Our most recent clinical review into this treatment found there is not enough evidence, which demonstrates that making chemosaturation available on the NHS would benefit patients; and represent the best use of health service resources.

“If a clinician feels that the level of evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness for this treatment has changed since the review, they should inform us, so the process for looking again at this clinical policy can begin.”

NICE told the M.E.N. it made 'specific recommendations about when this procedure is appropriate' when approving it back in 2021: "There are serious, well‑recognised complications, associated with this procedure. It can be used with special arrangements for clinical governance, consent, and audit or research, for patients with metastases in the liver from ocular melanoma.

"For patients with primary liver cancer or metastases in the liver that are not from ocular melanoma, evidence of efficacy is inadequate in quality and quantity and this procedure should only be used in the context of research."

To support Craig's fundraising go here.