That was the experience of Michael Pattemore, husband of actress and TV presenter Lynda Bellingham, who sadly died on 19th October 2014 at the age of 66, having been diagnosed with bowel cancer in July 2013.

Lynda’s medical team estimated that she may have had bowel cancer for 18 months before it was discovered. Despite two stool tests and a blood test, it wasn’t found initially and following her diagnosis, she became a champion for getting a colonoscopy, which in her view, could have saved her life.

The disease later spread to her lungs and liver and Lynda and her family were told it was inoperable. Lynda was expecting to live until January 2015, and had planned to spend one last Christmas with her family, loving the festive season so much. She said: “I would love to make one more Christmas, if possible, but I want to stop taking chemo around November in order to pass away by the end of January.”

But her death was quicker than expected. She managed a round of TV interviews, particularly on Loose Women, before she died on 19th October 2014, much to the sadness of the British public.

Michael Pattemore, new patron of Bowel Cancer UK

 

Bowel Cancer UK asked Lynda’s husband, Michael to help raise awareness. Having been through such immense personal loss, it’s a topic close to his heart.

My message is about early diagnosis. I got involved because of my wife. If she had been diagnosed early she would still be here today.  But she had stage 4 cancer. If you think there is something even a little bit wrong with you, go to the doctor immediately.”  He goes on to say, “I am so proud to be a Patron for Bowel Cancer UK. Lynda’s death left the biggest hole in my life. The ten years I spent with her were the most wonderful, she had such a happy, positive influence on everyone around her.   Her diagnosis of bowel cancer came as such a shock to both of us and all our family.  Lynda would definitely approve of me raising more awareness of this awful disease with Bowel Cancer UK. If together we can save one person’s life or more, it will be part of her legacy.”

Michael took on the challenge of climbing the O2, along with Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK Deborah Alsina.

Deborah said, “We are absolutely delighted that Michael is a Patron of our charity. The dignified and courageous way in which Lynda handled her diagnosis of advanced bowel cancer struck a chord with the nation, and we are very grateful to her and Michael for their openness in expressing their experience of the disease.”

“Michael’s appointment as Patron is incredibly timely. We’ve announced that we are moving into research to focus on improving access to early diagnosis, and best treatment and care by unlocking the reasons people die, piece by piece.”

“An important part of our work will concentrate on improving screening, and we very much look forward to working with Michael in this area and more generally to raise awareness.”

My Lynda

Lynda touched many lives in her memoir, There's Something I've Been Dying to Tell You, and in his new book My Lynda, published in September, Michael tells his side of the story.

He talks movingly about their ten years together and describes how, in the past year, he has struggled to cope. He shares his experience of grief, offering hope and support to others who have lost partners and loved ones.