1st November 2020

Lung cancer is Still Here: David James

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“One of the happiest memories I have of my Dad is my wedding day. We were due to get married in October 2018 in Turkey, but we had to cancel it because Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer the month before.

We rebooked it for March 2019 in this country. Dad had just finished his chemotherapy and a couple of months earlier we had found out his treatment was working, so we felt like we had so much to celebrate.

Mum always tells me how proud Dad was to walk me down the aisle because, at times, he didn’t think he would get the chance to.

Dad was initially diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. We then learned it had spread to his bones. At this point, the doctors gave him a year.

The diagnosis came as a complete shock. Dad had mentioned on a couple of occasions he had a chest infection. There had also been an episode of wheezing the year before his diagnosis, but in general, Dad was fit and healthy. Lung cancer was never even a passing thought.

Despite the diagnosis, Dad was still dad. He was very laid back and funny. He was a big kid at heart and enjoyed being in the water or the mud! He was always the first to be in the sea at the beach, regardless of how cold it was, even if it was just for a paddle! Even after his diagnosis, none of this changed.

One year after his diagnosis, we threw Dad a F*** cancer party. How he didn’t guess, I will never know as me and my Mum were constantly whispering in the kitchen making plans! There was about 60 of his friends and family crammed into my house and we all surprised my Dad as he walked in; he thought he was coming in for a cup of tea before we went out for dinner.

Dad passed away in the early hours of Saturday 2nd May 2020. It still doesn’t feel real. His death has left a massive hole in our lives and it will never be the same again. As a family, we used to enjoy days out and holidays together and it’s such a horrible thought that he won’t be there to enjoy these times with us. 

That’s why I wanted to reshare his story, to try and prevent other families from missing out on these times together.

None of us smoke in our family so we thought would never happen to any of us. Whenever my Dad went to the doctors for his chest infections, he was always sent away with antibiotics, I suppose even the GP never suspected lung cancer because of my Dad being a non-smoker.

I think there needs to be more awareness and education of lung cancer, especially for non-smokers. I remember on one occasion when he was in hospital, he mentioned lung cancer to the doctor and, as soon as he did, the first thing the doctor asked was if Dad smoked. It’s so intrinsically linked, it’s almost like a reflect but it’s so dangerous.

It’s scary as most of the warning signs of lung cancer are common symptoms of so many other illnesses, especially at the moment when Covid, and that’s what most people put their symptoms down to, so they never get checked out until it’s too late. I know there is so much going on and the moment and so much attention and focus on coronavirus but I want there to be more awareness for lung cancer. There has to be. It’s a cancer that isn’t spoken about very much in the media. I don’t understand why because it’s the cancer that kills the most people. More awareness and early detection could make a massive difference to so many people’s lives.”