North East dad given just one year left to live beats the odds after cancer treatment

A North East man&nbsp;and teenage girl&nbsp;have received pioneering cancer treatment thanks to the support of a foundation founded by England legend Sir Bobby Robson. <i>(Image: Newcastle Building Society)</i>
A North East man and teenage girl have received pioneering cancer treatment thanks to the support of a foundation founded by England legend Sir Bobby Robson. (Image: Newcastle Building Society)

A North East man and teenage girl have received pioneering cancer treatment thanks to the support of a foundation founded by England legend Sir Bobby Robson.

Keith Farquharson, 48, from Heaton, Newcastle, and sixteen-year-old Rebecca Henderson, from Billingham have both received pioneering cancer treatments at Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle.

Mr Farquharson has been treated for stage 4 bowel cancer since 2017 and was told most with his condition die within a year, while Ms Henderson was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer at eight-years-old.

The pair's treatments have been funded and developed with the support of the Foundation at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, and Mr Farquharson credits these with extending his life.

Read more: Ferryhill couple taken to hospital after burglary

The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

When speaking on the effect it's had, he said: "I was referred onto the Sir Bobby Robson unit for an immunotherapy trial that started in 2018, and I've been on that same trial ever since.

“It's bought me three and a half years of extra life so far, which is
amazing. That’s three and a half more years with my son - he was four
when I was first diagnosed and he'll be ten this year.

“Because I've been there for so long, being on the Sir Bobby unit feels
almost like a family - you get to know the nurses, the doctors, the
whole team, and in a way, it doesn't feel like hospital.

“These trials are going to help so many other people down the line and
it's vital that they’re funded - simply put, without the Sir Bobby
Robson Foundation, I wouldn't still be here.”

Before his treatments, Mr Farquharson underwent two rounds of chemotherapy which had no effect on his tumours.

The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

He called the trials the "backbone" of future treatments and said this was very important to him.

Meanwhile, he said it is vital the charity continues to receive funding, and said he had been on the same immunosuppressant trial for four years now.

He also raised over £5,700 for the Foundation in 2020 by completing a 2,000-mile virtual Tour de France on an exercise bike in his back garden while shielding at home during the pandemic

The Foundation, which is part of Newcastle Hospitals Charity, was set up
by Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie Robson in 2008 to support the search for
more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

Read more: Work progressing on new Bishop Auckland cinema and leisure complex

The Northern Echo:
The Northern Echo:

Since her diagnosis, Ms Henderson has undergone eight clinical trials and said she motivated to continue these trials to help future cancer patients.

She said: "It's important that the charity gets funded, because the more that gets donated, then the more research gets put into trials, and it can help not just me, but other children as well."

Within the NHS, the foundation works in collaboration with Newcastle University and other cancer charities.

It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS
Foundation Trust, and also contributes significantly to the
global fight against the disease.

Both Mr Farquharson and Ms Henderson will be taking part in a film alongside Professor Ruth Plummer, Director of the Sir Bobby Robson
Cancer Trials Research Centre, and Newcastle Building Society Chief Executive Andrew Haigh.

The film will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the partnership
between the charity and Newcastle Building Society.

Speaking on working with the foundation, Andrew Haigh, Chief Executive at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Supporting The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation for the last decade has been a real honour for the Society and the work done by the Robson family, Professor Plummer and everyone involved with the organisation remains truly inspirational.

“We are immensely proud to have been part of Sir Bobby’s ‘last and
greatest team’ for so many years and to be contributing to something
unique which makes a tremendous difference to the lives of so many
people across our communities.”

Read next:

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here