Stricken with cancer and Covid-19, young Bermudian needs help
A young Bermudian with multiple medical challenges is hoping friends and family help him raise the $25,000 he needs for treatment.
Sherwin Hall learnt in June that he had CIC FOX04, a rare cancer that attacks the soft tissues.
The 28-year-old, who left Bermuda six years ago to live in Leeds, England, went through four cycles of one form of chemotherapy and two of another, without success.
Told by doctors on October 26 that palliative care was all they had left to offer him, he and his fiancee, La’Troya Wilkinson Caines started a Go Fund Me page.
Through it they raised $52,549.64 which enabled them to travel to Tijuana, Mexico with their seven-month-old son Sancho, for immune-boosting therapy that also didn’t work.
Back in the UK this week, Mr Hall tested positive for Covid-19 and discovered he had candida, a yeast infection that can be life-threatening to people who have a weakened immune system.
“As I sit in the hospital with Covid-19 and candida (a life-threatening infection) I pray to God that he shows mercy and delivers me from this horrible situation,” he posted on Facebook yesterday from his bed in Leeds Hospital.
“All I can think about is my fiancee, La’Troya, and my baby boy Sancho Hall. The memories we have are so special and unforgettable.”
Mr Hall started experiencing pelvic pain last September. As it worsened, he developed a lump near his rectum.
“At first I didn’t take it seriously,” Ms Caines said. “Sherwin can be a bit dramatic. But when he was screaming out in pain waking up the baby, I knew something was really wrong.”
The pain spread to his right leg and buttock. He went to the hospital “about 20 times” desperate to get British doctors to take his health problems seriously, but they were focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
One doctor insisted it was a sexually transmitted disease, another said it was an infection; a third thought there was an abscess and tried to drain it.
Mr Hall now believes the ‘abscess’ was actually his primary tumour and that cutting it likely made things worse.
As it was, the doctor didn’t scan the area and never checked the fluid afterwards.
“When you cut into a tumour it spreads,” Ms Caines said. “He never had any chest pains before that. It was down in his pelvic region. Three or four weeks after they found 30 nodules in this lungs.”
In May it was decided that he needed an MRI but doctors could not give him one as the machines were backed up due to Covid-19.
By the following month, when an opportunity to slot him in was finally found, he’d already started to lose feeling in his right leg.
The MRI showed a 5in mass in his pelvis and indicated that the ‘lump’ near his rectum was probably part of a tumour.
Doctors said he had stage four cancer and explained that the odds of getting his particular type were one in 300 million.
He was then told he had anywhere from two months, to two years to live.
“It was devastating,” said Mr Hall, who was on his own when the news was given to him.
He and Ms Caines believe that the delay in diagnosis cost them vital time in getting treatment, and are taking legal advice.
“If they had found the primary tumour when it was under five centimetres (1.9in) that would have given him a 20 per cent better prognosis rather than what he was given,” Ms Caines added.
At the very least it would have bought him some more time with his family, she said.
“In Mexico he did immune-boosting treatments,” Ms Caines said. “While he was there he began to have extensive pelvis pains again, same as he had at the initial diagnosis, and four swollen lymph nodes so we knew it wasn’t working.”
Mr Hall went into hospital a week ago “because he had an infection, blood clots in his lungs and trouble breathing”.
At the moment, he feels “all right” but knows his body isn’t well.
“It is hard to stay positive,” he said.
Hopeful that he will overcome his recent challenges, he intends to next go to Germany for a form of chemo that is injected directly into the tumour.
“The treatment isn’t offered in England,” Ms Caines said, explaining they have started another Go Fund Me page in hopes of raising $61,154.44 and have raised $37,132.98 so far.
The injections cost $5,000 per session and doctors in Germany feel he would need at least two at a time – one in his lungs and one in the area of his primary tumour.
“This type of cancer becomes immune-resistant and chemo-resistant quickly,” Ms Caines said. “They say money can’t buy life, but in this instance it can.”
The couple, who met as students at Southampton Glebe Primary School, intend to get married next month although they haven’t set a date yet.
They moved to the UK six years ago, separately – Ms Caines wanted to pursue a degree in law and Mr Hall wanted a better life.
“We were out here and in other relationships and got single at the same time,” she said, explaining she is on maternity leave until March and has put plans for a master’s degree on hold.
Mr Hall was doing well as a dog breeder until he started to feel unwell.
Asked how she stays strong Ms Caines said: “I don’t really have another choice. My friends check in on me daily. I have a seven-month-old and have to be strong. You get used to it. Now even with him being in the hospital, it gives me a little bit more time during the day, but I don’t know what to do with it.”
Although they have not lived in Bermuda for several years, friends, family and even complete strangers have reached out to them with donations, or just words of comfort and encouragement, which has helped.
“It’s the yeast infection that is worrying,” Ms Caines said. “He can’t have any treatment until the Covid-19 and the infection is gone. And this type of cancer can get worse very fast without treatment.”