5th April 2018

Mags McIntyre

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“It took 11 years and many failed fertility treatments before we were blessed with our daughter, Eve, followed three years later with our second blessing, Louise.

After enduring many years of heartbreak, I thought we’d been through the tough times and could now enjoy being a family. Little did I know that more was around the corner.

Colin was 48 years, 4 months and 4 days old when he died of lung cancer.

He died almost six months after his diagnosis. I remember it all so vividly. It was 10th June 2016. Colin went to his GP after struggling with back and shoulder pain for a while. He also had a cough that wouldn’t shift as well as weight loss and general fatigue.

He was sent for an x-ray and then promptly for a CT scan. My stomach sunk to my feet. Why were they moving so quickly, I panicked? CT scan means cancer, right? In Colin’s case it did. Stage 4 non-small cell adenocarcinoma. Inoperable. Incurable.

While I was shouting to anyone who listen – “Why Colin? Why us? Why now?!” – Colin simply said, “Why not me? What makes me so special that I would think this could never happen to me?” It’s such an important point and something I am desperate for people to recognise.

It was the hardest day of our lives when we broke the news to Eve and Louise. They were just 10 and 7 at the time. All they wanted to know was their daddy going to die?

We were as honest as we could be with them. We didn’t tell them it was incurable. Instead, we were very positive and explained about Colin’s treatment. He coped brilliantly with chemo; you wouldn’t even have known he was having it. We then enjoyed a quiet, family Christmas, unbeknownst that it would be our last.

It was the hardest day of our lives when we broke the news to Eve and Louise. They were just 10 and 7 at the time. All they wanted to know was their daddy going to die?

Colin left behind his wife, Mags and their two daughters

We were relying on Colin being approved for the immunotherapy, nivolumab. However, things turned bad quickly. He was really struggling with his breathing and his mobility, had extreme shoulder and back pain and was also experiencing panic attacks. He couldn’t even make it up our stairs.

Tests revealed our worst nightmare; the cancer had spread and nivolumab was now off the table. Everything was off the table, all that was left was palliative care.

Colin didn’t want to stay in hospital, he wanted to die at home so we started talking about the practicalities such as beds, stair lifts, commodes. Colin also wanted us to tell the girls together that daddy wasn’t going to get better.

We didn’t make it that far though. Colin deteriorated rapidly. His breathing was laboured and he slipped into unconsciousness.

He never regained consciousness and, in the evening of Monday 6th February, he died and the world was left a much poorer place.

Because Colin was an incredible man, wonderful husband and devoted daddy. His knowledge was legendary – you’d want him on your pub quiz team! He had the most wicked sense of humour and loved a good gossip! I wasn’t ready to let him go. I needed more time and felt robbed of those last few weeks we were promised. But no amount of time would have been enough.

Of course I am angry. Angry that I lost my husband. Completely devastated my little girls have lost their daddy. But what makes it worse are the attitudes that accompany this awful disease. It feels like everything Colin was is cast aside when people ask that question – “Yeah but did he smoke?”.

That is why I am a Roy’s Runner and a proud supporter of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. It will be an honour and a privilege to run this year’s London Marathon in Colin’s memory and also an opportunity to show that lung cancer is taking good people, to show that it does not discriminate and to show that any of us could fall victim to it.”