A grateful 74-year-old martial artist has praised south London researchers for treating his cancer after taking part in a medical research.
The married father-of-two, Arthur Austin, from Sutton, South London, was treated for esophageal cancer, after taking part in a study from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Austin’s cancer stopped growing after taking an inhibitor drug called rucaparib, allowing him to resume his passion for aikido.
Austin had previously been diagnosed with stage two cancer in 2019, but after a clear biopsy in January 2020, he was diagnosed with stage four in July 2020.
He said: “My cancer journey has been a real rollercoaster ride, but thanks to the team at The Royal Marsden I can go out to eat, walk my dog every day, travel and do pretty much everything I was able to do before my diagnosis.
“The doctors, nurses and wider staff are all fantastic and they have given me my life back.
“The staff really make you feel like you are part of a family and the hospital previously saved my wife of 50 years, Susan, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer,” he said.
The treatment rucaparib blocks a protein that helps cancer cells repair themselves and prevents them from growing.
Oesophageal cancer is a disease that affects the gullet or food pipe and more than 10 out of 100 people will survive this form of cancer for 10 years or more, according to Cancer Research UK.
Austin added: “I am a great believer in medical research, so my message to anyone considering taking part in a clinical trial is: just do it!
“You will be well looked after, doing your bit to help wider society, and it may even save your life one day.”
Austin who is also the owner and training instructor of Kodokan Aikido Club in Wandsworth and a 6th Dan Black belt is thankful for the treatment which has allowed him to resume his passion.
“I set up the Kodokan Aikido Club back in 1978 with my brother, Robert.
“Martial arts has been a major part of my life for so many years and my son, James, is even an instructor at the club; it is a real family affair.
“I like the fact the club helps to keep me connected to other people, active and happy,” he expressed.
The initial medical trial called PLATFORM at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust aims to give more treatment options to people with oesophageal or stomach cancer which can’t be removed by surgery after initial treatment.
Arthur carries on regular monthly blood tests and undergoes a 12-weekly Computed Tomography (CT) scan as part of his involvement in the PLATFORM trial.
Professor David Cunningham, a Consultant Medical Oncologist, who is Chief Investigator for the PLATFORM trial at The Royal Marsden, said:
“We hope these drugs, which are given between chemotherapies, will prolong the length of time until the patients’ cancer starts to regrow and extend their lives as a result.
“Plus, compared with standard treatment, these drugs may be less toxic so patients have more time without the side effects of chemotherapy, which can be debilitating.”
“I’m hugely grateful to Arthur and all of the volunteers who are kindly taking part in this research.
“Thanks to them, this study could pave the way to more effective treatments, which are urgently needed.”
The PLATFORM trial is sponsored by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the trial is funded by MedImmune and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.
Find out more about the PLATFORM trial on Cancer Research UK’s website.