It would be impossible to talk about Brian without including his wife, Cath. They are childhood sweethearts, golf buddies, and global travel partners: they come as one. However, as anyone who has been through cancer knows, even with your emotional rock with you, it can still be a very lonely experience.
If you have ever spoken to someone who has been through cancer, they will tell you that the time from the initial discovery of cancer to the full prognosis and following treatment plan, is the darkest time. This was true for Brian. He went through stages of anger and sleepless nights, and the inevitable, ‘why me’ question.
This is where I would like to sign off and end the story; however, in one of the standard post treatment examinations it was found that the cancer had returned, and this time, it was much more aggressive. As a consequence, the treatment this time needed to be more dramatic.
Brian had his stomach removed and when he came out of surgery he had a bigger situation to deal with. It was Cath’s 60th birthday! They celebrated together in his ward and the nurses were more than happy to pop to the shop for Brian and bring back an array of gifts. It was a memorable birthday for Cath, one that still brings tears to her eyes.
Brian went through months without making progress and continuing to lose weight. The breakthrough came from the most interesting and unexpected of products… At his daughter’s wedding – where a collection raised £400 for Lingen Davies – Brian noticed his granddaughter eating a white mouse sweet. “Get me one of those will you?” he asked.
After his first mouse, he was hooked. He found that white mice were both palatable and helped with weight gain. Over the following Christmas Brian moved on from white mice to boxes of Christmas treats. Still thin, he had finally turned a corner and was at last, improving.
He started off slowly, walking around his garden, to jogging for a mile or two, until he was ready. . He had been very fit. His job required him to be physically active and his love of golf required him to spend hours walking around courses chasing that white ball. But that was then. Brian’s body was now very different. He wondered if it would deal with the grind of a run? He started off slowly, walking around his garden, to jogging for a mile or two, until he was ready.
Throughout all his health issues, Brian had had his family by his side, and this was no different. He embarked on his run with his two sons although he needed no motivation. He completed his run with ease, and consequently raised a significant amount of money for Lingen Davies Cancer Fund.
I asked Brian about his memories of the Lingen Davies Cancer Centre. He tells me that to work there takes a truly special individual. It is not a place that anyone can work. It is a place of suffering but the staff aim to make it a place of joy and recovery. He remembers in the early stage of his treatment he was still at work and was responsible for building the helipad at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
To finish, I asked Brian for any pieces of advice he has for others. He has two. If you suspect something, no matter how small, get it checked. Your mind tries to convince you that it is nothing but it is a consultant’s job to do that. The other is to make sure you live every day as if it is special because that is that what the Life of Brian now looks like.