A FORMER special constable has been seeking specialist treatment in Germany for an aggressive brain cancer.
Natalie Paul from the village of Bubbenhall, located between Coventry and Leamington Spa, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2017 when she was just 27.
She had not suspected anything significant despite symptoms including headaches and weakness to her left side.
But when she was rushed to hospital following a seizure doctors found a mass on her brain.
Natalie underwent life-saving surgery which kept the tumour at bay until 2019 when doctors discovered it was growing back in the same place.
She said: “Since 2017 I’ve had to have further surgery, I’ve tried three different treatment plans, multiple cancer starving diets and since my last operation at the start of 2020, I’ve been attending regular physio to repair and rebuild my left side motor functions.
“There have been many lows across the three years but it still remains, I am fighting stage four cancer and it won’t beat me.
“As with many cancers, mine has this really annoying characteristic where it grows back in any free space. So by removing it to see how harmful it is, we create an environment for it to grow again.
“Further invasive brain surgery isn’t really an option as it is likely to cause more deterioration to my movement and potentially be life changing.”
Natalie, who has had to put her dreams job of being a cake maker on hold while she undergoes treatment, made the decision to stop chemotherapy and seek different options.
It has led her to Cologne in Germany, which has a clinic offering ‘pioneering treatment’ for glioblastoma.
But the treatment is not available on the NHS and must be funded privately, and due to Brexit and the pandemic Natalie has faced a number of obstacles, and describes it as a ‘military operation’.
And after raising £35,000 of her £100,000 target, Natalie and her parents have already travelled to Germany for the first part of her treatment. It sees radiowaves targeted at the location of the tumour, along with a vaccine personalised with her blood.
One round of treatment involves three visits to Germany and two vaccinations.
To help raise money Natalie has walked the equivalent of a marathon throughout January.
And her brother, friends and supporters are cycling, running and swimming the 680km distance from Natalie’s home in Bubbenhall to Cologne.
Natalie said: “Unfortunately as you can imagine, to access the treatment is costly and covid is also making this process so much harder with border restrictions and isolation periods when arriving in Germany elongating how long we would need to stay each time.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I am proud and never really ask for help, but on this occasion I can’t do this alone. My family will be running various types of fundraisers to help raise money and I have taken on my own personal challenge of walking a marathon in January, which is no mean feat saying I have only just regained confidence to go out walking in the last few weeks, after nearly 12 months and ongoing issues with walking and balance.
“Any funds raised not used for treatment of my brain tumour will be donated straight back into research via the Brain Tumour Charity to help others suffering from the same.
“I would like to say a massive thank you for anything you can donate, it really will be a life saver for myself and my family will also be eternally grateful.”
Visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-natalie-fight-brain-cancer to donate or find out more.