A cancer sufferer who has undergone three 15-hour operations since June, has been denied state benefits after he was told he was fit for work.
Matthew Still, 30, a construction worker from Sutton Bridge, who has had an incision in his windpipe to help him breathe and is now in the middle of a radiotherapy course, is fighting cancer of the throat and mouth.
He has been unable to work to support his wife, Leah, and their two children aged three and five, as he concentrates his efforts on the fight to recover from the disease.
Jobseeker allowance claimants who say they are too ill to work, must undergo a work capability assessment from the Department of Work and Pensions.
The decision to deny him benefits has also deeply affected all the relatives in his extended family.
They rallied round and quickly organised ways to help him in the only way they could – financially.
On Sunday, a raffle with more than 30 prizes donated by local businesses and individuals was drawn at Reflections Hair and Beauty Salon at Searle’s Leisure Resort, in Hunstanton. It raised £400 to add to an earlier pamper day in Sleaford, where his relatives live, raised £765.
Reflections owner, Michele Mitchell, is a family friend who was keen to help and became involved through Matthew’s aunt, Karen Beech, who worked at the salon.
Mr Still, not surprisingly has trouble talking, the result of his tongue grafts and his tracheotomy, and left it to his aunt, Kirsty Beech, to explain what happened. She said: “He was diagnosed in June The body rejected his first tongue after six days. So a couple of days later they decided to rush him back to do another one. That one was rejected more or less the same day.”
The operations were carried at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth hospital and so far the third tongue appears to have taken.
Various parts of his body have been used as a substitute tongue including part of a leg muscle, and the climbing muscle in his shoulder.
“Now he can’t lift his arm above his head,” said Ms Beech. “He’s literally been butchered, bless him,” adding that the doctors are baffled because Matthew doesn’t smoke.
“They have now done all the forms and we hope to sort out his benefits now.”
“I’m so very grateful to my family and all my relatives for rallying around to help me,” whispered Mr Still.