A YOUNG father whose brain cancer treatment was delayed during lockdown has been told he has just six months to live.

Neil Matheson, from Dundee, agreed to postpone chemotherapy until the risk of catching coronavirus reduced.

However, the 36-year-old has now been told that his tumour has progressed too far and treatment has been withdrawn.

He and wife Emőke, with whom he shares five-year-old daughter Isabelle, have now pinned their hopes on a private clinic London which has agreed to accept Mr Matheson onto a clinical trial.

Mr Matheson can no longer work or drive, and faces the risk of a stroke at any time.

“The tumour is now interfering with my vision and I am blind on the left side of both my eyes and my peripheral vision has gone," he says. "I am struggling to walk too.”

The family's ordeal began in 2017 when Mr Matheson began experiencing seizures, blurred vision and headaches so painful he would pass out.

In 2018, an optician discovered abnormalities during an eye test and a subsequent MRI scan at Ninewells hospital revealed that Mr Matheson had an aggressive and incurable brain tumour known as a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

“The doctors told us that if we had waited just one more month, Neil would already have been dead," said Mrs Matheson.

"Luckily, they were able to operate and just two weeks later he was in theatre having eight-hour brain surgery to ‘debulk’ the tumour, which we were told was the size of an apple.

"The surgeon was aiming to take out 40% of the tumour but amazingly he managed to take out 100%.”

Mr Matheson went on to have chemotherapy, which appeared to stabilise the tumour, but in March this year - a week before the UK went into lockdown - an MRI showed that the cancer was growing again.

Mrs Matheson said: "Doctors wanted him to start him on a different type of chemo as soon as possible. As the hospital wasn’t licensed to use this alternative treatment, they had to wait for permission to go ahead.

"By the time permission was granted, the country was in lockdown and Neil was given the impossible choice of taking the treatment and risk contracting Covid, or postponing the treatment, thus increasing the risk of his tumour continuing to grow.”

Cancer patients were believed to be at high risk of fatal complications if they contracted the virus while undergoing chemo- or immunotherapy, although some evidence now suggests the danger was overstated.

A follow-up scan in May showed that the tumour had spread to the back of Mr Matheson's brain.

Chemotherapy began on August 7 but was suspended weeks later when it failed to work. Mr Matheson has been told he has six months left to live.

“We are continuing to fight and have found a private clinic in London, which is willing to take Neil on a clinical trial," says Mrs Matheson. "We are both only 36 and should be enjoying life as a family.”

The couple are fundraising for Brain Tumour Research as well as trying to raise £20,000 towards private treatment and a fund for their daughter.

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, but receive just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research.

Hugh Adams, spokesman for Brain Tumour Research, said: “The pandemic has been impactful on the clinical pathway for many cancer patients and Neil and his family have been placed in a truly dreadful situation. How desperate that they have had to make these choices.

“We must do what we can to ensure that Covid does not completely disrupt the care for brain tumour patients and that the research and clinical trials that will improve options and outcomes for patients, which are currently in jeopardy, are able to continue.”