A CANCER-RIDDEN dad who was given just months to live in 2018 is helping scientists at Oxford University launch a brand new research institue.
Sean Guinness, 60, said he felt like the “luckiest man in the world” after doctors used “cutting edge” immunotherapy medication to reverse his terminal diagnosis.
The government IT specialist was first treated for early stage skin cancer back in 2011, where he was given a 92 percent chance of survival.
But in the spring of 2018, he began a scrap with death, after surgeons found a tumour had burst on his small intestine and diagnosed him with stage 4 metastatic melanoma.
The married dad-of-two then got the crushing news that he had just eight months to live, in April of the same year, as the disease had spread to his liver and gallbladder.
And his shattered daughter, Amelia, 28, even asked him “to write a letter” that she could read out at his funeral, should he pass away suddenly.
But despite his dire situation, doctors didn’t give up on Sean, and provided him with drugs including nivolumab and ipilimumab that can help find and kill cancer cells.
Within months, scans showed that the disease was in retreat – and remarkably, four years on, specialists declared him “cancer clear” earlier this year.
Sean now plans to live out his middle-aged “dream” of giving his daughter away at her wedding in August, with services planned for the UK and Spain.
Sean said: “I feel like the luckiest man in the world.
“I don’t want to win anything. I don’t want to win the pools. I don’t want to win the lottery – I feel like I’ve won the lottery many times over.
“I’m very close to my daughter, and to be able to walk her down the aisle and to give her away at her wedding day – it’s the things that you dream of in middle age.
“I’m a reasonably articulate person, but the words that I can use seem quite feeble compared to the emotions that I feel. I’m grateful to everyone who has got me this far.”
Sean, from Harrogate, North Yorks., said a routine check-up in 2011 had revealed that he had “1A” early-stage skin cancer.
But following an operation on his lower calf, where surgeons removed diseased tissue, he was given the “all-clear”.
However, in March 2018, Sean was rushed to hospital where doctors found a tumour on his small intestine had burst and later gave him just eight months to live.
He said: “They then did a CT scan with dye and recognised there was something really wrong. Something had happened in my abdomen, but they didn’t know what.
“I then had surgery, as a tumour had been on my small intestine and had burst, and a lifesaving operation was underway as I was in a really bad situation.
“I ended up with a stoma bag, and four weeks later, I went to see my surgeon, who told me I had terminal cancer – stage 4 metastatic melanoma.
“It had spread to my liver, gallbladder as well as my small intestine.”
Shocked Sean said he had gone into “survival mode” after finding out he had less than a year to live.
He said: “We don’t generally work in such short terms to live, but you start going into survival mode, which tends to be a mixture of anger, despair, numbness.”
“I was a happily married man with two beautiful children, one going through university, a 20 year-old, one out of university, a 24 year-old.
“I was ready for living the happy life because my wife and I had brought up a family together. And then suddenly, it felt like everything I’d worked for was being taken away from me very sharply.”
“My daughter told me if I didn’t make it, before I died, she wanted me to write a letter. It was in case she met anybody – that it was something she could read out at the funeral.”
Despite his diagnosis, doctors as St James’s University Hospital, in Leeds, decided to give Sean a course of immunotherapy drugs, which can turn the tide on cancer.
And when he received the news that his tumours had started to shrink after just three months into the two-year course, he said he was “elated”.
Sean said: “Only a third of people are lucky enough to be capable of taking the treatment.
“I know of people who started and then could only get through the first month and their bodies just rejected it and they subsequently died.
“But those that have been successful with it would definitely call it a miracle drug.
“For me, after two years, all that was left was a five or six millimetre nodule on my gallbladder, which turned out to be the ghost of a malignant tumour.”
Following Sean’s remarkable recovery, he worked with specialist cancer experts to launch a research institute at the University of Oxford, MyMelanoma, examining early stage cancer.
He said: “I decided I wanted to give my skills back in ways that could be effective.
“And now after three years of hard work, and with many people giving their time, we are now an institute at Oxford University.
“We are ready to gather information on all people that get stage “1As” and start to look at the causation from the data that we get from the people.”