He kept personal things to himself. Didn’t much like talking about medical stuff. Almost certainly thought he was indestructible.
But he wasn’t.
Andrew died in 2015 at the age of just 30 from the bowel cancer he fought doggedly for six years.
But his legacy is anything but typical, very far from ordinary.
After being diagnosed in 2009, Andrew, who worked on the family farm in Ansty, set up a charity with family members and friends to raise awareness of bowel or colorectal cancer and its devastating consequences. The dearly loved son, grandson, brother, husband, father and 'legendary' friend even penned a poem as part of his campaign. 'Bowel cancer – what a pain in my ass.'
Now three years after his passing, the work of Dorset-based Ducks and Drakes is as important as ever in spreading awareness and fundraising.
Andrew’s mum Annette said:
“It means so much to all of us to be carrying on what he started.
“If there’s one message above all we want to get across, it’s that if there is something wrong, you need to talk about it and do something about it. Go and see your doctor. Do not waste a minute.
“The only time Andrew really got that was when he had to do something.
He watched Embarrassing Bodies on the television and realised he had bowel cancer. But he had been keeping quiet about the fact that something was wrong for a long time, two whole years.”
The charity has a website, organises fundraising events and raises awareness of the condition among young men. Groups like the Young Farmers and football and other sporting clubs are key target audiences. In fact anyone between 18-30.
Annette and other trustees also give talks in the community.
There is a big genetic element to bowel cancer, something it is important to remember. When Andrew was diagnosed, the whole family had to be checked.
Both his dad and his sister Becky were clear and did not have cancer. “Them both having regular checks now means that if anything did occur, it would be in the very early stages”, said Annette.
Meanwhile Andrew always outwardly fit and healthy, but who had been keeping things to himself for so long, had to undergo an ileostomy, with a large section of his intestine removed.
After the operation, Andrew needed specialist cushions to make sitting on a tractor more bearable whilst working on the family farm.
But Dorset County Hospital only had a few of them. With typical energy and enthusiasm, he decided to raise money for more, with family and friends.
So Ducks and Drakes was born with an event at Athelhampton. £2,000 was raised.
“It could easily have stopped there,” explained Annette. “In fact it started from there.”
Last year the charity raised an incredible £93,000.
Around £75,000 will help establish a radiotherapy department at Dorset County Hospital. A waiting room is to be named after Andrew. It will make all the family very proud.
Other funds help patients with the costs of travelling to appointments and for the vital further education of specialist colorectal cancer nurses.
Dorset County Hospital is very grateful for the hard work, dedication and fundraising.
Andrew underwent a number of further operations (some of them pioneering) after his initial surgery, but just when it seemed he was winning, the cancer returned more aggressively.
However in the midst of his battle, Andrew and his longtime sweetheart Rachel celebrated the birth of baby Lucas James in 2013. He was the happiest man on the planet, not least because they had been advised having a child may not be possible due to his treatment.
In 2014 he was told the cancer was now terminal but that did not stop him making the most of each day.
He remained the life and soul of every occasion, said Annette.
In January the following year Andrew and Rachel were married, fulfilling another of their dreams. He passed away in September that year.
Although time marches on, Andrew's memory and the passion that fired Ducks and Drake into life burns as brightly as ever.
Annette explained: “The charity is special for one very obvious reason. But it's also very special because it is rooted in and part of our community. And we are carrying on Andrew's mission, every day, to save lives.”
For more information see http://ducksdrakescancertrust.org.uk/index.html
The symptoms of colorectal cancer can be:
Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your stools
A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
Unexplained weight loss
Extreme tired for no obvious reason
A severe pain or lump in your tummy
Ducks and Drakes Cancer Trust
Ansty, Dorset DT2 7PJ
georgina ( @ ) sambecketts dot com
Powered by WPeMatico