A former Mansfield Town player is dreaming of a return to action as he undergoes pioneering stem cell treatment.
Travis Munn is currently in isolation at University College Hospital in London while receiving the “strongest amount of chemotherapy possible” over five days to destroy his immune system as part of the treatment.
The 24-year-old dad-of-two, who has scleroderma, an autoimmune rheumatic disease and degenerative disorder, is only the second patient in the UK to undergo the treatment for his disease.
Travis said: “The disease is basically killing me from within – when I was diagnosed they said ‘you will inevitably die but we can’t say how long you have it depends how fast it spreads’.
“Of course, the treatment is a big risk, but I hope I will fully be illness free and maybe get back to playing football one day as this disease ended my career a few years ago.
“It might be a dream, but it is something I have done all of my life – having that taken away and being told I have this dreadful illness is tough.
“My wife has been with me every step of my way and we have two beautiful kids – that’s this biggest reason I won’t give up and am fighting.
“I am not allowed to see anyone at the moment in the hospital – not seeing them has been really hard – the chemo is just ripping through me.”
Travis married Harriet, aged 28, last year, after bringing their wedding forward because of his treatment.
Travis, who lives with Harriet and their daughters Freya, aged five, and three-year-old Bella in Long Eaton, first started noticing something was wrong while he was a young player with the
Stags four years ago, having started at the club in his late teens.
He said he first noticed his fingers were turning blue while training later deteriorating to the point where he could not climb stairs.
He said: “My football went downhill, I was struggling to breath and before I was one of the fittest lads.”
He was then transferred to non-League side Boston United and then Boston Town before he gave up football because of his condition in 2016.
Travis was originally told there was no cure for his disease when he was diagnosed in 2014.
However, after finding stem cell transplant cases online he fought for six months to receive the treatment.
Travis, who hopes to be out of hospital by Christmas, said: “I know other people are going through the same thing – even if the doctor tells you it’s the end it isn’t.
“I was up late one night and as we all get depressed and I found this treatment online which I pushed to get for six months.
“I want to help other who maybe in my position or similar to let them know there are other routes to take which I have had to do and may be light at the end of the tunnel.”
Travis is currently undergoing chemotherapy as part of his stem cell transplant.
Scleroderma the disease Travis has is characterized by hardening of the skin and connective tissues and treatment options are often limited.
Antirheumatic drugs and immune-suppressing drugs can be taken but none provide long-term benefits.
Travis is currently undergoing Myeloablative autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), which includes chemotherapy and total body radiation to destroy bone marrow followed by transplantation of the his own blood-forming stem cells.
It is hoped that the treatment might modify or reset his immune response, potentially reducing or preventing disease progression.