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'We'll beat this": Cancer patient Jacob Macak and his wife Lilia Rossana left Queenstown on Wednesday for what they hop is life-saving treatment at a clinic in Mexico

By PHILIP CHANDLER

A Queenstowner diagnosed with terminal cancer has urgently flown to Mexico for treatment to try to beat the odds – and the risk of extra coronavirus-related border closures.

Jacob Macak, a 33-year-old engineer, was originally told he had deep vein thrombosis after flying back from Europe in January and reporting a sore right calf muscle.

But last month he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer – specifically, adenocarcinoma -and because it’s also spread through his body, he’s been told it’s incurable and he’s got six to eight months to live.

“I don’t want to make this sound like I disrespect the medical system, but I don’t believe that’s true,” he told Mountain Scene before flying out on Wednesday with his wife, Lilia Rossana.

“I think if my body created [this cancer], it most certainly must be able to get rid of it, and just because the medical system doesn’t believe the same thing, doesn’t mean I’m going to give up my fight.

“I don’t think the cancer’s here to kill me, I think it’s just trying to tell me something.”

Macak’s faith is echoed by Rossana’s: “Even though Western medicine is telling us there is no hope, I truly don’t believe it.

“We’re starting a family soon, we have a whole future together – like, dying now is not an option.”

The couple, with the help of friends, sourced a treatment centre in Mexico’s Cancun, called Hope4Cancer, that’s had some remarkable success.

Despite having to find a daunting $80,000, friends chipped in and amazingly raised $75,000 in just six days through a GoFundMe campaign.

“Apparently we’re the most successful fundraiser on the page,” Rossana says.

Macak: “It’s absolutely mind-blowing because I don’t really feel special.”

Rossana says she panicked last Thursday when booking their tickets the same day United States President Donald Trump closed the US border to Europe.

“It was hard, ‘should we do it or not?’, but we are so sure that we are going to have a good result that we are going anyway.”

However, they did bring forward their departure date, against the possibility of further border closures affecting their travel, including a stopover in the US.

Rossana says they’ve learnt not to let fear get in the way.

“Fear cannot win – for us, or for coronavirus, fear is not an option.”

Macak says he’s pretty confident his three-week treatment programme – “it’s all research-based, it’s not crazy” will be successful, especially as he doesn’t feel sick at this stage.

“I may not get treated completely, but I think the most important part is I will gain a lot of knowledge and we’ll see the treatment options [to continue with when we’re back].”

scoop@scene.co.nz