Chepstow woman’s Race for Life is tribute to husband (From South Wales Argus)

by Symptom Advice on March 26, 2012

Chepstow woman’s Race for Life is tribute to husband

11:50am Friday 23rd March 2012 in News

TWO years after her husband died of stomach cancer, his wife Jo Rees, with her family and friends are backing the Race for Life in memory of him.

less than a month before being diagnosed with stomach cancer Barry Rees was playing five-a-side football regularly – but within four months of diagnosis, he was dead.

Jo, 38, still struggles to comprehend the speed with which the disease took her husband from her and their two children Luke, six, and four-year- old Amelia.

she admits to days when she feels like “climbing into a dark cupboard and not coming out”. but she is also confronting the hurt and despair head-on, by corralling friends into taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, to raise money for research.

Mrs Rees, of Chepstow, said her engineer husband, was physically fit with a healthy lifestyle, and they did not even consider cancer as a possibility.

“He had some symptoms with indigestion the previous autumn, but it had been a stressful year for us both and we suspected a stomach ulcer,” she said.

“It wasn’t until Christmas that he started to get really ill. He became very weak, to the extent that he couldn’t even hold a screwdriver to assemble the children’s Christmas toys.”

mr Rees was admitted to the Royal Gwent Hospital on Boxing Day 2010, and the diagnosis came two weeks later. Stomach cancer can be particularly difficult to detect, and thus to treat, as symptoms often only manifest themselves once the disease is well-established.

“The cancerous cells were in the stomach lining, so there was no obvious tumour or growth. Barry understood the consequences, because he had researched stomach cancer as a possibility when he first became unwell,” said Mrs Rees.

“I was totally unprepared though, and just couldn’t take it in.

“The implications for me and our children, who were two and four years old at the time, were im-mense.”

After two full cycles of chemotherapy, mr Rees began then stopped a third, as the cancer was not responding, and the couple felt it was robbing him of his quality of life.

Mrs Rees recalls a “nightmarish”

time, wanting to be there for her husband and the children.

“I’d often stay up all night with Barry, then drive home to be there for the children in the morning. I don’t know how I got through it,” she said.

“My friends and family were great though, often just popping round with food because I didn’t have much time or energy for cooking.

“The hospital also helped, providing a bed so I could get some rest while with Barry.”

Mrs Rees also had the heartbreaking task of breaking the news to her children, and was helped to prepare for it by a support worker from St David’s Foundation Hospice Care.

“I wanted to be open and honest with them and explain the situation in terms they would understand,”

she said.

mr Rees died on April 7, 2010, aged just 37.

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