“Time is not on my side” — St Andrews PhD student Scott Stinson is campaigning to raise vital funds to treat a rare form of inoperable bone cancer.
Scott Stinson, 25, is a chemistry graduate from Dundrum, Northern Ireland, who specialises in cancer research at the University of St Andrews.
Graduating from Heriot-Watt University in 2016 with an Master’s degree in chemistry and nanotechnology, Mr Stinson was selected for a place at the UK Research Councilfunded Centre for Doctoral Training in Critical Resource Catalysis here at St Andrews, under the supervision of Dr Euan Kay.
In April 2018, during the second year of his PhD studies in chemistry and nanotechnology at St Andrews, Mr Stinson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, located in his right shoulder. Three months later in August of that year, Mr Stinson had to have his right arm and shoulder amputated at Birmingham Royal Orthopedic Hospital after the only known curative chemotherapy drugs currently available for the disease were not able to suppress the cancer.
Due to its rarity, osteosarcoma does not have a market large enough to gain support and resources for discovering treatments for it. After exhausting all possibly curative treatment available to him on the NHS, the cancer has now spread to Mr Stinson’s lungs.
Mr Stinson states, “Now, a year after my diagnosis, the cancer has metastasised to my lungs and my oncologist has advised that any further treatment would be life-extending only.”
Mr Stinson’s friends and family have recently launched a GoFundMe page in the hopes of raising enough funds to pay for private drug treatments, not yet available on the NHS but licensed and shown to be effective in other countries, which Mr Stinson would like to pursue.
His mother, Jill Stinson, set up the GoFundMe page. She states that “We need to consider urgently other realistic treatment options in the likely event that treatment in the UK will not be prescribed.” However, the family are still pursuing the possibility of receiving immunotherapy in the UK.
Ms Stinson outlined that funding of treatment options abroad is an issue for him and his family, and so the funding campaign has been created with the target of raising £120,000.
This money is vital in covering the treatment package costs. These can be up to £55,000 a time as well as including indefinite monthly follow-up care of up to £4,000. Funding is also vital for travel and accommodation costs incurred during treatment visits. Stating that “time is not on [his] side,” Mr Stinson hopes “to raise enough funds to begin the first round of treatment by the end of April.”
The funding campaign has received widespread media attention and within just 10 days of launching, Mr Stinson’s GoFundMe page has been donated to by 2,500 people and has reached £87,000 so far.
With many donating hundreds of pounds towards the cause, there is less than a third left to be raised until Mr Stinson reaches his target. £40,000 of this sum was raised within the first three days of the appeal being. The page has also reached a staggering 3,700 shares on Facebook and is a trending campaign on the GoFundMe site. Mr Stinson’s friends and family have also set up an accompanying Twitter page under the handle @seeyasarcoma in support of the campaign.
As well as raising funds for his further treatment, Mr Stinson would like to spread awareness of such a rare disease as osteosarcoma. The uncommon form of bone cancer usually develops in growing bones and is usually found in amongst teenagers and young adults, particularly in young males. Any bone in the body can be affected, but the most common sites are the arms and the legs. More information about osteosarcoma can be found on the Macmillan website.
Mr Stinson receives unconditional support from those closest to him. Ms Stinson added that his “strength and determination since April are immeasurable and we continue to be grateful to Scott’s amazing girlfriend, Becky.” Mr Stinson’s partner, Becky Hollis, has paused her Master’s degree in Costume Design in Edinburgh and moved to Northern Ireland to live with and care for Mr Stinson in Newcastle, County Down.
To accompany the GoFundMe page, Mr Stinson’s friends have set up an online store, “Scott’s Helping Hand”. The online shop stocks art, photography, jewellery and more which has been donated by Mr Stinson’s friends and family, as a means of helping him hit the campaign target of £120,000.
Ms Stinson added, “I understand this is a huge amount of money to ask from people. But raising these funds mean I have a chance to continue living my life with my wonderful girlfriend, family and friends.”