A YOUNG man battling two brain tumours has finally started potentially life-saving treatment following months of fundraising.
Friends, family and strangers teamed up to raise more than £74,000 for Reece Hawley, 21, after three rounds of intensive chemotherapy proved unsuccessful.
Consultants recommended cancer drug Avastin, but it is no longer available on the NHS and costs a staggering £6,800 for a three-week course.
Reece, of Clayhill Road, Basildon, was closely monitored in hospital yesterday after taking the drug for the first time.
It can have damaging side effects, including high blood pressure, bleeding, breathing difficulties, or even strokes and heart attacks.
Proud aunty Jacqui Marable, 48, from Canvey, said: “We have finally got there, but obviously we don’t know yet what will be the outcome.
“The good thing is Reece will be watched closely, so if it’s working we should know quite soon. If it doesn't there are other treatments we can try, but it will involve taking him out of the country. The problem is we need him to be well enough for that.
“Reece is such a brave boy and from day one he has said he will take whatever treatment is offered to him no matter how it makes him feel because he’s not ready to give up yet.”
Reece, a former Woodlands School pupil, was fit and healthy until he had a bleed on the brain in May 2013, which was caused by a tangle of blood vessels called an arteriovenous malformation.
After undergoing six weeks of daily radiotherapy and chemotherapy, his family thought he was on the mend, but doctors went on to find two new brain tumours.
His story touched the hearts of people across the country, and Tshirts, charity bracelets and other memorabilia were soon being made to support him.
His family are continuing to plough on with their fundraising efforts as it is not known how long Reece will need to stay on Avastin or howmuch alternative treatment will cost.
Mrs Marable, a healthcare assistant at Basildon Hospital, added: “The one thing we didn’t want to was start his treatment, find out it was working but then have to take it away from him because we couldn’t afford it.
“We have been overwhelmed with the support we have had so far, but we’ve got to continue fundraising.
“Saying thank you to everyone who has helped just isn’t enough.”
A fun day for up to 300 guests will take place at Partyman World of Play, in Repton Close, Basildon, from 7pm on Saturday, September 13.
For more information, email reecetumournaterhawley@ hotmail.com.