A father-of-three who named his brain tumours after ’80s film characters Bill and Ted got a most excellent boost when his fundraising campaign attracted support from one of its stars.
Christian Laycock and his partner, Joanna Jaeger, have raised nearly £60,000 so far for life-saving treatment in Germany, after the 44-year-old was diagnosed in March.
When the couple first noticed something was wrong, they thought it could be a side effect of his Covid-19 vaccine but the immune response it triggered alerted them to the underlying problem.
After launching a fundraising page, Mr Laycock was shocked when the actor who played Bill S Preston, Alex Winter, tweeted: “Please donate and help Chris get rid of bad Bill & Ted.”
Mr Laycock said: “You could’ve knocked us over with a feather. We were out when we got a call telling us.”
He said he decided to name the tumours to “take away their power”, with Bill the “biggy” and Ted the “tiny”.
“I called them Bill and Ted because they are taking us on an excellent adventure. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry,” he added.
“People are stunned by how positive we are but are not surprised by how we have handled it.”
“My sister owns a personal bespoke stationary company and has made it her mission to make a series of funny cancer cards, because nothing was appropriate for us.
“‘Get well soon’ isn’t right for someone with a terminal diagnosis and ‘with sympathy’ is a bit premature.
“There’s got to be more people out there who want to laugh in the face of what’s happening.”
Mr Laycock, who is originally from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy to stabilise his condition at Manchester’s Christie Hospital.
He has been diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma, with ‘Bill’ being inoperable and affecting the right side of his body and his speech.
The same tumour also has an IDH Wild Type mutation, which means it is fast-growing, and MGMT unmethylated, making it less responsive to treatment.
The couple said it was the Covid-19 vaccine which had led to the discovery.
Miss Jaeger said: “It transpired the vaccine had caused inflammation of his brain because he already had a tumour, so it alerted us to the problem.”
Mr Laycock added: “It pissed the tumour off, but potentially saved my life.”
The couple believe it is important to create more awareness.
“We thought if we were open, then it gives people an open door to talk to us and treat us the way we want to be treated,” Miss Jaeger said.
“It’s important they understand what we are going through, why it matters and why we want to save his life.
“Apart from being a great guy, he is a dad of three and he’s got plenty to give to the world.
“I think the fact we have raised so much so fast is testament to his character.”
Mr Laycock said it was a “ray of hope” when they discovered treatment was available in Germany.
“I’m a big believer of ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way’. The treatment at worst will be life-extending, at best it’ll be life-saving, but it’s better odds than none at all,” he said.
“I’m not scared of dying, I just don’t want to. We’ve just got to keep on, keeping on.”
The target of the Go Fund Me page is £100,000, and after one day had hit £24,000.
Miss Jaeger said: “Seeing people rallying round takes your breath away. It’s the positive moment out of such a negative experience, it’s just been overwhelming. It’s absolutely restored my faith in humanity.”
With the funds, Mr Laycock will head over to Germany for his screening, primary tests, and assessment in September, before starting treatment in December.
The fundraising page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/chris-needs-you-kill-bill.