St Ives man battling mystery cancer aims to raise £10,000

Paul Barker who is battling cancer of unknown primary, or CUP

Paul Barker who is battling cancer of unknown primary, or CUP - Credit: Archant

A KEEN golfer who is battling a mystery cancer is hoping to raise £10,000 for a charity which funds research into the condition.

Paul Barker, of Van Gogh Place, St Ives, was 42 when he discovered, by chance, that he had the disease.

He was seeing his GP about a hernia and mentioned a swelling in his neck which led to the diagnosis of cancer of unknown primary, or CUP.

“I didn’t feel unwell or anything. I had swollen lymph nodes for quite a while and I just left it.

“When they did the hernia they took samples from my neck. I had to wait four weeks for the results but I thought it was going to be nothing to worry about.

“I was fit and healthy so it came as a bit of a shock.”

Despite a series of scans and tests, the cancer’s origin could not be found so a three-month course of chemotherapy was prescribed.

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Eighteen months later, a follow-up scan revealed the disease was still present and Mr Barker was told he would need a “radical neck dissection” to remove the infected lymph nodes.

“It was quite a big operation,” he said. “The op lasted four hours. The scar was rather large– it went from just under the earlobe, down and across the windpipe.

“I had 28 staples in it. I was in Addenbrooke’s Hospital for about five days.

“There was a high risk of infection. It took two to three weeks of healing and they then needed to follow up with fairly aggressive radiotherapy which they did over four weeks.”

Now 44, the NHS data analyst was off work for the whole of December, some of January and all of February.

He went back for the first day of a phased return last Tuesday (March 19).

Mr Barker admitted that before he was diagnosed he had not heard of CUP and it was during an internet search that he found Jo’s Friends – CUP Foundation.

The charity, which supports CUP patients and their families, was set up by Jo’s husband, John, after she died from an unknown cancer.

“I thought I’d like to do something to help,” said Mr Barker, who started fundraising in January.

Events including coffee mornings, lunches, marmalade sales and sweepstakes have raised about £3,000.

INFORMATION: The next fundraiser is a golf day at Lakeside Lodge, Pidley, on Friday, April 26. Anyone interested in taking part or donating a raffle prize can contact Mr Barker by searching “Paul Barker fundraising” on Facebook or visit