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Brave teacher given weeks to live after receiving UK's second diagnosis of extremely rare cancer

A secondary school teacher has been given the heartbreaking news he could have just weeks to live after being diagnosed with a rare condition only ever seen once before in the UK.

James McMillan was sent home from work earlier this year when colleagues noticed his skin was turning yellow and he soon found himself in and out of hospital undergoing various tests.

James McMillan who has become only the second person in the UK to be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Picture: Chris Davey. (21537225)
James McMillan who has become only the second person in the UK to be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Picture: Chris Davey. (21537225)

He was eventually referred to the Royal Marsden in London and was diagnosed in August with a follicular dendritic cell sarcoma – an extremely rare form of cancer that originated in his stomach.

Only one other patient in the country is believed to have received the same diagnosis and as many as 10 different doctors tried to get involved to see if they could remove, or slow down, James' tumour.

However, it was decided that an operation would be too dangerous and while the 36-year-old underwent four courses of chemotherapy treatment over the summer, this was stopped over fears it was making him more ill.

In recent weeks, James has endured more pain, lost weight and become weaker, with experts warning he could have anywhere between one and six months left to live.

"Getting that news turned everything upside down," he said.

Ed and James McMillan's wedding day
Ed and James McMillan's wedding day

"You have to re-evaluate everything and can't make decisions the same way you used to.

"If I wanted to get a new mobile phone, I couldn't take out a 24-month contract because I probably won't be here to see it through.

"At the moment it's just a case of monitoring things and hopefully I got a good few months."

James lives in Tunbridge Wells with husband Ed, 29, who he first met at the Pantiles three years ago, and who has praised him for his strength throughout recent weeks.

The couple, who share the same birthday and are celebrating today (Wednesday) with a meal and a film, had planned to marry next year but frantically reorganised their plans within the space of a week to allow them to tie the knot in September.

"He's a really unselfish person, and he hasn't moaned or complained throughout this whole ordeal once" - James McMillan's husband, Ed

Now Ed has set up a Facebook Fundraiser for Sarcoma UK – a national charity that funds vital research and offers support for anyone affected by the rare cancer – and is inviting donations in the hope of generating enough money to perhaps one day find a cure for the disease.

"Often when people are dying you see GoFundMe pages being set up, but James isn't interesting in raising money for himself, he doesn't have a bucket list," Ed said.

"He's been to South Africa, Egypt, Asia, he's done everything already, really.

"He's a really unselfish person, and he hasn't moaned or complained throughout this whole ordeal once.

"It's really hard to watch on as his partner, knowing he's dying, and knowing that I can't really do anything to help."

More than £200 has already been raised for the cause and anyone else wishing to donate can do so here.

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