Martial artist praises south London researchers for giving him his life back after cancer diagnosis

Date:
20 January 2022

A grateful 74-year-old martial artist has praised south London researchers for giving him his life back.

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Arthur Austin pictured with his wife Susan.
Pictured: Arthur with his wife Susan.

Arthur Austin from Sutton, south London, is taking part in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) study PLATFORM, at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The trial, supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) South London, is looking at giving more treatment options to people with oesophageal or stomach cancer that can’t be removed by surgery after initial treatment. Oesophageal cancer is a disease that affects the gullet or food pipe.

Arthur, who was diagnosed with stage four oesophageal cancer in July 2020, is taking an inhibitor drug called rucaparib, a type of targeted treatment. The medicine blocks a protein that helps cancer cells repair themselves. By doing this it could stop the cancer from growing.

The married father-of-two’s cancer has not grown in nearly two years since he started taking rucaparib, which has allowed him to return to his first love: Aikido. Arthur is the owner and a senior training instructor along with his son at the Kodokan Aikido Club in Wandsworth. The 74-year-old is a 6th Dan Black belt and he described martial arts as a way of life. 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 (pictured), after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“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.

“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.”

Arthur has to carry out regular monthly blood tests and undergo 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:

“This trial is exploring a range of new ways to treat some people with inoperable gastroesophageal cancer. We hope these drugs, which are given between chemotherapies, will prolong the length of time until 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, and receives support from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden and the ICR. MedImmune and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals have funded the trial. You can find out more about the PLATFORM trial on Cancer Research UK’s website.

This article was adapted from an article featured on the NIHR CRN South London website.