After 14 years, four brain tumours, 10 neurosurgeries and ongoing heartache Noah Telfer is on his last chance to live for his family.
Telfer, his wife Pauline Sanders Telfer and their three children are desperately hoping a course of intravenous vitamin C (IVC) will send his cancer into remission and save his life.
But the alternative treatment is not funded by the Government and the family have had to move into Pauline’s parents home to afford it.
Telfer, 40, was exercising six days a week, a vegan and meditating daily when he was diagnosed with brain cancer as a 27-year-old.
Dizzy spells resulting in him falling off his bike were the first symptoms something was wrong. A doctor diagnosed him with a mid-ear imbalance but when it didn’t clear up she sent him to the hospital.
When Telfer was diagnosed with an ependymoma tumour in the brain, Pauline, 41, said they were totally shocked.
“That was something we definitely didn’t expect. Especially as he was really healthy.”
The tumour was operated on and doctors predicted a low chance of the cancer returning.
But two years later the South Auckland family were devastated to learn a second brain tumour was found in the same place. A surgery cut out part of the cancer and the rest was treated with radiation therapy that left Telfer with double vision and imbalance.
Telfer never returned to work from 2005, instead becoming a stay-at-home dad while Pauline went back to work as a registered nurse. He was the only man at Playcentre and had a “beautiful time” with his children.
“I’d recommend it to anyone,” Telfer told the Herald on Sunday.
But the cancer came back. In 2010 Telfer was diagnosed with his third brain tumour. It was treated with surgery and radiation and resulted in hearing impairment as his ears were unable to be protected from the radiation exposure. He now wears hearing aids. The family were forced to sell their home in 2012 after medical expenses and dropping to one income resulted in too much financial pressure.
Then in 2014 a fourth tumour was found above Telfer’s brain stem. But he had received the maximum recommended dose of radiation treatment. Any more would kill his brain tissue.
Doctors cautiously operated but were not able to remove the whole cancer without risk of brain damage.
The couple, who met in high school, had heard about IVC but held back because of the price. The initial 12 weeks will cost $7200 in addition to Telfer’s vitamins, supplements and doctor visits.
Then, at $300 a treatment, he will have to maintain a dose of IVC for an unknown length of time.
The couple and their two youngest kids moved back to Pauline’s parents house in Papatoetoe last year so they could save money on rent. The children had been “very resilient” even when they had to move school, Pauline said.
“They know why.”
Because of Pauline’s income, Telfer has never qualified for the sickness benefit. The income threshold is $44,403 for their category. They have set up a Givealittle page to help with costs.
“We couldn’t afford to do the IVC and rent at the same time,” Pauline explained.
“Sometimes people want to help others but don’t know how they can do that. We’re grateful for anything.”
Telfer said his life is very quiet and slow now. His dream would be to get healthy enough to study philosophy. He wishes his two youngest children had been able to see him when he was healthy.
“They’ve only ever known me as this.
“I’m not involved in a lot of things. I have very few friends. But life is still full of happiness.
“There’s so much about life you don’t know. And there are always people more worse off than I am.”
Cancer Society medical director Dr Chris Jackson said the theory behind intravenous vitamin C is that it acts as a strong antioxidant that targets cancer cells. But he believed no human randomised clinical trials had looked at the effectiveness of the treatment.
“People have had good anecdotal experience but anecdotes aren’t enough to get it registered or funded,” Jackson said.
“In my own clinical practice I haven’t seen anyone with great success. But with many treatments it’s difficult to know which one of them is working. That’s why we would support a good clinical study. It’s an important next step.”
Whangarei Police officer Anton Kuraia recently died of cancer after years of publicly campaigning for intravenous vitamin C. He was given eight weeks to live three and a half years ago when he was sent home after his cancer was deemed too aggressive.
He changed his diet, took intravenous vitamin C and 10 weeks later a bone marrow biopsy showed a complete remission of the cancer.
Kuraia started The 809 Foundation to help Kiwis fight cancer naturally. The aim was to raise funds to subsidise high dose intravenous vitamin C.
Click here to donate.