A wonderful husband, loving father and respected policeman, Allyson Pailor speaks to Inspire about how Andrew was taken away so very quickly.
“I guess you could say Andrew and I had a whirlwind romance! After meeting in October 1990, we were engaged within a couple of months. We just wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
After we got married, we moved to the Isle of Man. When Francesca was born, Andrew decided to join the police force. It was a job he’d always wanted to do. He began his training and absolutely loved it. He always did everything to a high standard!
Ben was born in July 2000. After a couple of years, he was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. As you can imagine Ben’s condition has made life challenging over the years but we just make the best of it. We were always a close and happy family.
In September 2015, Francesca went to study Occupational Therapy at York St John University. I’ll never forgot the day she moved – it was the first time I noticed Andrew’s cough, extremely mild but noticeable.
The next morning he went to the GP. It was very unusual for him – he hadn’t had a day off sick in years. He was told he had a mild chest infection and given antibiotics but after a couple of weeks, he went back to the doctor. A chest x-ray showed blockages in the lymph nodes in his lungs.
Francesca was still at university. It was awful having to tell her over the phone. Fortunately, her friends were there to support her.Allyson recalls tell her daughter about Andrew’s diagnosis
It was then I started to worry. We suddenly noticed he’d lost a lot of weight, probably over a stone, and looked very thin. Then, on a Sunday night, he had serious pains in his lungs and we went to A&E. We were told he had pneumonia and a blood clot in his right lung and was admitted to hospital. The possibility of cancer was talked about but ruled out. I guess he wasn’t a prime candidate for lung cancer.
Andrew remained in hospital, spending his 45th birthday there. One morning he woke up and his breathing had deteriorated. His left lung had filled with fluid. They drained three litres and lung cancer was diagnosed. Andrew was given 12-18 months to live.
Francesca was still at university. It was awful having to tell her over the phone. Fortunately, her friends were there to support her. Ben knew his dad was ill but, in his mind, you just get better. At one stage, it looked like he was; Andrew tested positively for the EGFR mutation and was given a new two-year prognosis, possibly longer. Our hope was short lived.
Andrew got another infection. Antibiotics helped but he then collapsed and was struggling to breathe. I remember it so vividly. We were having horrendous gales and the roads were severely flooded. By the time we got to hospital, we were told he might not make it through the night. He did but his body was shutting down. He passed away three days after Christmas.
There must have been around 300 people at the funeral. Andrew meant a lot to our community. The cortege was led by a piper. Francesca can no longer tolerate the sound of bagpipes. You don’t realise how things will affect you until afterwards.
Francesca spoke at the funeral. I was so proud and I know Andrew would have been too. She is an incredible young woman, so determined. She’s continued to support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and raise awareness of lung cancer, completing the Island Parish walk last summer and organising a charity football match in Andrew’s honour. When Andrew was diagnosed, you would not believe the amount of people who said to us “I didn’t know he smoked”. Maybe it would be easier if he had. Then we’d have a reason as to why this happened to us.
Last year, the police created a sergeant’s award in Andrew’s name. I proudly got to award it to one of his best mate’s last April.A fitting tribute to Andrew
Life is very quiet now although Ben keeps me busy. He’s nearly 17 now but has the mental age of a young child. Andrew and I always thought that, between us, we’d be ok but it’s worrying at times knowing I’m now on my own with him. All I can do is make the most out of every opportunity that comes along.”