Man diagnosed with sinus infection turned out to have rare cancerous tumour

Luc Slocombe has had to put his plans to join the Army on hold since his diagnosis. Credit: Media Wales

When Luc Slocombe started suffering from a suspected sinus infection in January 2021, he didn't think anything was seriously wrong.But what he didn't know was that a cancerous tumour, which had developed in his nose, had grown and was starting to press against his eye.It was the start of a difficult journey for the 21-year-old amateur rugby player, who would need chemotherapy and major surgery, as well as having to completely rethink his career.

'I got antibiotics from the doctor but then my eye started protruding'

"It was around the new year in 2021 when we were in lockdown and the right side of my face went numb," he said."I got antibiotics from the doctor but then my eye started protruding. My girlfriend and her mum told me I needed to go to hospital and so the doctor sent me to The Grange University Hospital.

"Doctors put a camera up my nose and found a tumour was pushing against my eye. They biopsied it some weeks after but couldn't identify what it was and so it was sent to London."

Luc says he and his girlfriend Lauren have had to change many of their long term plans since his diagnosis. Credit: Media Wales

Luc, from Newport, said he had to wait a number of weeks for the results.

"They had told me to try not to worry, but that's all I could think about and do. I always assumed the worst. For two weeks it consumed me," he said.

The results came back and Luc discovered it was cancer - chondroblastic osteosarcoma of the nasal cavity.

'The hardest part wasn't being told it was cancer'

The doctor told Luc the position of the cancer was so rare it is only seen once every four years.

"The hardest part wasn't being told it was cancer, it was when they sent me to discuss my chemotherapy plan for treatment. They told me it would be for 30 weeks and I just broke down in tears. The nurse asked me if I had any aspirations."

Luc, who works for Amazon and is in his second year studying business management at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said he wants to become an officer in the Army.

"Now I don't know if I will ever be able to. When I was diagnosed, I went down to the Army careers office to tell them my diagnosis and they took me off the recruitment list for now. I asked them if I could apply later on and they said I could try my best," he added.

"Me and my girlfriend Lauren had a five-year plan. It was going really well until the doctors told me I had cancer. There is no chance we're going to get that done now. All of our plans are shot.

"My girlfriend has been amazing. We've been together since we were teenagers. She shouldn't have had to deal with this."

Luc had 30 weeks of chemotherapy. Credit: Media Wales

As he was diagnosed during the pandemic, Luc went through most of his treatment on his own. He had seven months of intensive chemotherapy followed by surgery in London.

"But of course thanks to our amazing NHS and very well-trained doctors the six-hour surgery was a success," he added.

"There were no side effects or even scarring, just a blocked nose and some bleeding. I was out within three days with a day in intensive care hooked up like Robocop with a catheter which I don't want to think about ever again."

'There is no point sitting in the corner and giving up'

Despite everything he has been through, Luc said he has remained as positive as possible.

"I am a really positive guy. There is no point sitting in the corner and giving up. You just have to face it head on and make a joke about it, because if you can joke about it it puts you at ease.

Less than one year on from his diagnosis and Luc is now back at the gym, building up his strength and playing rugby - a huge part of his life.

And more recently, he received the good news that he doesn't need proton beam therapy.

"Because surgery went so well I don't need proton beam therapy which I'd felt really anxious about. It felt amazing to get that news. It has been such a long year of chemotherapy, surgery and everything being postponed. That part of my life is over now and I can put it behind me."

Luc is now fundraising for the charity, Young Lives vs Cancer, which supported him throughout his treatment.

Within 24 hours of setting up his fundraising page he had raised £5,000 ahead of a special event he is organising at his local rugby club.

Around 20,000 people a year in Wales are diagnosed with cancer and an estimated 170,000 people are living with the disease in its various forms.