Ceri’s Story

Ceri’s Story

My partner Neil and I, went travelling around S America for over 4 months to celebrate his retirement as a GP. Just before we left, Neil went down on one knee and proposed, so suddenly we were planning a huge wedding as well as our great adventure. It was a wonderful trip which we labelled our ‘pre-wedding honeymoon’.

During our travels, I started getting problems swallowing food, and returning back to the UK, this became quite frequent, so we decided I should see my own doctor. She immediately referred me for an endoscopy at our local Exeter RD&E hospital, and the story begins.

Whilst taking the endoscopy examination, the physician also took a small biopsy from the base of my oesophagus which was tested and confirmed that I had oesophageal cancer. It’s a funny feeling because, in a way, I’d already guessed. My mother died of throat cancer when I was 20 and I was identifying similar problems, so the diagnosis confirmed my suspicions. I’d suffered from reflux most of my life, so I was aware that my oesophagus was being damaged in some way.

Now!! The wedding? We had 220 people, some of whom had booked flights from as far as Australia, USA, Uruguay and more. We couldn’t cancel, and we didn’t want to. No matter what state I was in, we decided the wedding would go ahead.

As the wedding day approached, I couldn’t believe how well I felt. My medical ‘team’ were all very happy with my fitness levels at the start of all this which was a great help apparently. I had chemo every Tuesday and radiotherapy 5 days a week, Mondays-Fridays.

The day of the wedding was the happiest day of my life and the most successful wedding. I was marrying this wonderful man I’d lived with for 7 years and we felt the whole world was happy for us.

I feel very lucky to have my new husband Neil holding my hand though all this. My 2 children have been wonderfully supportive, as are all our family and friends. The medical staff all through have been a fantastic and cheerful support and became so excited about our wedding. I’ve also met some lovely fellow cancer patients who may become friends when all this is over. I hope so.

Life is most definitely for LIVING!!


4 years later…

About 4 years ago OPA included my story about getting married in the middle of treatment for oesophageal cancer. I am now 66 and living life to the full so I thought I’d write a follow up.

A month after our wedding in September 2017, I had my oesophagectomy in Plymouth. My children and partners came down from London and we all walked together at dawn to the hospital. I was more excited than nervous as finally I would be rid of it. It was to be a very long operation so there was no point them waiting around at the hospital. Instead my husband took them to the Plymouth gin distillery which I agreed was the perfect distraction. 8 hours later and probably high on morphine, I was elated to wake up to the relieved faces of my loved ones.

I had 10 further days in hospital making a steady recovery. I remember such a great feeling when the tubes came out as I was able to walk around the wards. My new husband visited every day and took me for short walks. Walking outside was wonderful.

As soon as I returned home I began enjoying our beautiful autumnal Devon countryside. I started with short walks, which grew longer each day. Within days my strength grew and I was walking up to our beautiful viewpoint, Culmstock beacon with views over Dartmoor in the distance. I felt so lucky to be alive, still glowing in the aftermath of our wonderful wedding and the real prospect of a future together.

But then the full blast chemotherapy started. I’d agreed to have as much chemo as my body could possibly stand to kill off any remaining cancer cells. My hair fell out and I felt exhausted- but always positive. I was doing this for my future, for my children and my new husband. I had so much to live for.

Following the gruelling chemo I made a good recovery. Within a month I went skiing which had been booked the year before. I started cycling on my new electric bike and soon we were traveling again in our campervan and internationally. A year following my surgery we had our honeymoon with my cool Judy Dench hair style.

So now I am very well, but I do occasionally suffer from extremely bad reflux. I sleep propped up which seems to work.

Last year, aged 65, I climbed Snowdon, and this year we climbed a Scottish Munroe over 3000 feet. My son married 2 years ago and I have a beautiful grandson. My daughter married last week and is on honeymoon as I write this. With a very loving husband, what more could I ask for? We’re both looking forward to international travel again, but during lockdown we’ve loved exploring the whole of the British Isles from Shetland to Jersey.

Every year I send photos of my achievements to my surgeons and oncologists to whom I am eternally grateful. Without their talents and hard work, I would not be here.

I wrote a blog almost every day during my treatment: https://ceriblogblog.wordpress.com (click on ‘About’ first)