"Every year that I'm still around is priceless"


There were no more treatments left for Danny van Brenk in the Netherlands. His cancer had metastasised and untreatable. They could treat him in New York, however. But the treatments are expensive.

The first diagnosis came in the winter and the last week of spring Danny van Brenk was told he only had a few more months to live. Bile duct cancer in the liver, with metastases. No more treatment options. But Danny (33), father of two little kids, didn't give up. He contacted one of the best cancer hospitals of the world and was told that he could be treated there, although the costs wouldn't be reimbursed, and he succeeded in raising over 150.000 euros in 10 days with crowdfunding. At the end of the summer, he was operated in New York.

One year after this operation, Danny looks happy and fit: he gained 30 pounds, just came back from New York, recovering from a new chemotherapy. He pulls his shirt up: next to his belly button, just under his skin, is a small pump, that every two months for two weeks pumps high doses of chemotherapy through the arteries of his liver. This way more of the chemotherapy is delivered to the tumour than with normal chemotherapy. But the effect of this treatment for his specific type of cancer, which is a rare cancer, has not yet been proven, and therefore the insurance won't reimburse a penny. The operation, the scans, the investigations, the medical support, the tickets to New York, the stay there, and that every month again: He calculated that for the first two years he would need 300,000 euros.

An online auction was set up, friends organised a charity run, hairdressers worked a day for him, his old soccer club, GVVV, organised a charity match, their rivals, Spakenburg, also collected several thousand euros, and strangers donated money, lots of money. And, as astonished as he was by all this, Danny van Brenk was able to prolong the few months he had left to a couple of years and maybe even more. 

This is translated from an article published in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant on Saturday 8 August 2015. This is about one of our very first patients, Danny van Brenk. If you are interested in the whole article, please click here.

*Update: Danny passed away in 2017 after having spent valuable additional years with his family.