Tamworth man holding on to hope, with nothing to lose

A MEDICAL journey to Germany could provide the last known cure for a Tamworth man diagnosed with brain cancer.

Darren Rickard will travel to the country next week to receive  treatment he hopes will eliminate his cancerous brain tumour.

The treatment, known as hypothermia radiation, is a softer but more specific form of the radiation therapy offered in Australia. 

It’s a similar treatment that Boggabri woman Jenny Barlow has been campaigning to bring to the country for the past six years. Just this week, it was administered to a patient for the first time at a Sydney hospital.

But for Mr Rickard, whose tumour has already been operated on and treated with chemotherapy and radiation as much as it can in Australia, the German treatment is one of the only options now available.

Several other local people have also made the journey to receive the treatment, which up until now, was only offered in Europe and Asia.

The 45-year-old father of two will travel overseas with his wife Janelle and daughter Kirsti, who will be by his side, while his son Scott will remain behind to work. 

His diagnosis was sudden and unexpected after coming back from a holiday in August and suffering severe migraines at his job as manager at TPE Earthmoving.

“Three months ago, I was fit as a fiddle and working 12 hours a day,” Mr Rickard said.

“It started to get worse from there and I knew something wasn’t right.”

When he was admitted to Tamworth Hospital in September, a scan raised the alarm and he was flown to John Hunter Hospital at Newcastle immediately.

Mr Rickard said the wait for results from further testing was unbearable and eventually revealed the worst: an aggressive malignant tumour known as glioblastoma multiform stage four. 

He said the first couple of weeks after the diagnosis were tough but he and his family were now working through it.

“We spend about 95 per cent of the time positive, but then sometimes we look at each and we know...”

After surgery to remove a portion of the tumour, he received six weeks of oncology treatment at Newcastle’s Mater Hospital. 

Mr Rickard said he would now get another round of treatment in Germany, where some promising results and increased quality of life were given to other patients.

“I’ve got to give it a go,” he said.

“There are no promises, but plenty of  hope with nothing really to lose.” 

An upcoming event organised by his family and friends will be held in his name to raise some much needed funds for the trip and treatment, which is expected to cost about $40,000.

Mr Rickard’s niece Rebecca Butler is one of the organisers behind the event, “Racing for Ricko,” which will be held next Friday at the Tamworth Tennis Club. She said they would hold phantom races and auctions for attendees to bid on, as well as provide food and entertainment.

Jenny Barlow, who put them in contact with the overseas treatment provider, is expected to speak on the night.

More information can be found on the Facebook page set up for the event at: http://www.facebook.com/RacingForRickoDarrenRickard

HOPEFUL: (Right) Darren Rickard with his son Scott, wife Janelle, and daughter Kirsti. Photo: Robert Chappel 221112RCB10

HOPEFUL: (Right) Darren Rickard with his son Scott, wife Janelle, and daughter Kirsti. Photo: Robert Chappel 221112RCB10


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