We had 20 more wonderful years together thanks to cancer research

Pat has been a supporter of Worldwide Cancer Research for almost three decades. In 2015, she sadly lost her beloved husband Alistair to cancer. This is her story of how pioneering cancer research gave them many more happy years together.

I was in the fortunate position to not know anyone personally who had been affected by cancer when I began supporting the charity.

Little did I know then, that a few months later my husband Alistair would be diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, shortly after our 25th wedding anniversary.

Pat and Alistair

He began chemotherapy late in December and by the following summer, he was in full remission. Then, when pre-cancerous changes a couple of years later indicated the likelihood of prostate cancer, he underwent radical surgery – again, successfully.

We were elated, so happy and started to plan many adventures together. We hoped that would be the last of it. But our worst fears were realised - the cancer had returned.

Whilst the same treatment saw him to a full recovery once again, Alistair’s consultant warned him of the likelihood that the cancer would keep returning until the treatment eventually stopped working. 

The best option was for Alistair to consider a bone marrow transplant that nobody over the age of 55 had yet undergone. By then, he was 58.

When he was told he would be lucky to only have another five years, Alistair leapt at this chance. He had so much he still wanted to do.

It feels strange to say this, but it was a rather wonderful shared experience for us: from walking in the hospital grounds every day to sharing meals with the other patients and their families – and sometimes the doctors too.

After returning home Alistair was monitored for a further nine years, until he was informed, politely, that unless something changed, seeing him further would be rather a waste of his time!

We were given the gift of time and did all the things we wanted to do.

We travelled to many different countries around the world, we went on four European river cruises. We indulged our hobby of Bonsai to the full – travelling the length and breadth of Scotland giving talks. In 2007, Alistair received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor and Government of Japan!

He was there for our sons’ weddings, grandchildren arriving, big birthdays and our adopted dog, Spice who was always looking for him.

And then, doctors discovered a liver tumour. Everything changed.
Surgery was not advisable due to the previous transplant, so Alistair simply carried on as he wished throughout the next 14 months. In his determination to carry on and live life to the full, he never gave in to the cancer until his last few days.

My wonderful Alistair died in his own bed five years ago – exactly fifty years from the day we got engaged.

Life is very difficult without him. He made our lives so full, and the energy he brought is missing from our house, even more so as we face this uncertain time. But I wouldn’t do a thing differently, I have no regrets whatsoever and loved my life with Alistair.

We would undoubtedly not have had those last wonderful twenty years together without the chance of the transplant - research gives more families more time together, and my late husband was one of the lucky ones.

I'll continue to support Worldwide Cancer Research now and after I've gone - in the hope that one day, my legacy can make a difference to other families affected by cancer. 

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