Family in desperate fight for life

Viv Logie

At 21 years old, Mike Gunter was just about to take on the world � instead he is fighting for his life.
Late last month he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and his mother Heather Gunter told the Greymouth Star today the prognosis was bleak so the family had opted to try "immunotherapy" treatment in Germany, and are now trying to raise the $150,000 to do so.
"If he has no treatment at all he only has months to live, and with radiation and chemotherapy the cancer might slow," Mrs Gunter said.
"We want more than months and that is why we have chosen to seek further treatment in Germany.
"Immunotherapy has been available in Germany for many years and is making advances in cancer treatment."
The alternative treatment could not be used in New Zealand or Australia because of legalities and had not been trialled in either country for long enough to gain official approval.
However, Mrs Gunter said she believed it would give Mike a far better chance of "living longer".
"We will be travelling to Germany at the end of February, after Mike has undertaken radiotherapy and chemotherapy here. It will be a two-pronged attack and the doctors in Germany told us to do the radiation and chemotherapy before we left, which would allow the immunotherapy to work more effectively.
"If there is a chance, we are going to give it a go � anything is better than nothing."
The tumour, a glioblastoma multiforme grade four, has been removed, but Mrs Gunter said because it was an aggressive type of cancer it remained in Mike's blood vessels.
An on-line Givealittle page has been set up to help the family finance the $150,000 treatment and trip to Germany. Already, 157 donors have given $12,894.
"People are just amazing and the support they have given us is tremendous," Mrs Gunter said.
Mike was a fit and healthy boy, and was a fighter, she said.
"No one has promised us a cure � we a fighting for a longer life for Mike."
Mike was diagnosed with cancer on the third anniversary of the sudden death of his younger brother Matt, 15, who died in November 2012 after routine surgery at Grey Base Hospital.
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