Young Scot given months to live after ‘hernia’ found to be rare bone cancer

The family of a young man diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer say their world has ‘fallen apart’ after being told he has just months left to live.

Michal Jablonski, from Livingston, West Lothian, began experiencing pain in August last year and initially thought he may have a hernia.

But the 24-year-old was shocked when medics discovered he had chondroblastic osteosarcoma and immediately began chemotherapy in October to shrink the tumor.

They had hoped it would become small enough to remove through surgery but a follow up scan in January revealed the IT worker’s illness had progressed.

Michal with sister Karolina
Michal with sister Karolina

Devastated sister Karolina told Edinburgh Live that the family are now desperately trying to raise money for alternative treatments which could save their loved one’s life.

The 28-year-old said: “He was back and forth to the GP because he thought he might have a hernia.

“His doctor was telling him it might be a pulled muscle, but they sent him for a scan anyway.

“He started his chemo back in August and had a scan three months later that showed everything was working well.

“The main point back then was to shrink the tumor enough so that he could have an operation to remove it, but then in January he had another scan and that showed that the chemo had stopped working again and the tumor was growing.

“It just kind of happened out of nowhere. It was a big shock and it took us a few days to digest.

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“It has been six months from being diagnosed to being told he was terminal, we just didn’t know what to do.”

Michal has since been confined to a wheelchair after being sent home by physicians due to concerns about his mobility.

Chondroblastic osteosarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer most commonly diagnosed in younger patients.

Doctors were unable to offer his family anything other than palliative care, with Michal now receiving ‘targeted chemotherapy’ in order to ease the pain and prolong his life.

Karolina and mum Irena have since poured themselves into research of different treatments for the condition around the world but have since only found one institution – based in Tijuana, Mexico – willing to accept Michal as a patient.

However, costs for the care start at around $36,000, with the family setting up a crowdfunding page to help raise the necessary funds.

Karolina said further calls were being made to facilities in Germany and the United States, but admitted efforts were being hampered by the Covid pandemic.

She added: “The place in Mexico was the first one to get back to us with a place for Michal, that’s when we set up the fundraiser.

“But we are still looking at other options. We originally asked in Poland where our family is from, but they redirected us to the UK because there was a better standard of treatment.

“We’ve looked at places in Germany based on a few recommendations from people, but some aren’t taking international patients because of the pandemic.

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“There is a really good place in America that we were told about, but it costs $2,500 just for a second opinion, so we weren’t sure whether or not to go there with the cost.

“We have two others, one in Germany and one in New York, to ask about. We’ve all had to share the workload between family and friends.”

Michal could yet receive care in Edinburgh, with a meeting about a clinical trial at the Capital’s Western General Hospital scheduled for later this month.

But Karolina admitted she was acutely aware of the time pressure facing the family.

“As a family, we feel like however much we do in a day is not enough,” she said.

“But we’re very aware of the time we have left with him and that time is running out.

“Michal is only 24 years old, and he has his whole life ahead of him, and we want to make sure he gets to plan and look forward to the future without living with this cancer battle every day.

“We refuse to give up, and we are ready to fight for his life.”

Almost £12,000 of the £32,000 required to proceed with treatment had been donated by kind-hearted family and neighbors by Thursday morning.

And Karolina said the family “would not stop” until they had given Michal the best chance of survival.

“People have been incredible so far, they have been so generous,” she said.

“We’re speechless by everyone’s kindness but we don’t want to stop, we want to keep going and keep getting towards the target.”

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Donations to the Go Fund Me page can be made at this link .

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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