My Dad was a Sergeant in the TA Medical Corp, Sergeant Major in the St Johns Ambulance as well as a Toolmaker for Black & Decker. In 1985 he started to feel unwell. Up until this point he had been fit and healthy. He never drank or smoked but was partial to a bit of fried food. He was diagnosed with ulcers in the stomach and then months later started being treated for Crohns disease.
He carried on as normal taking medication for the Crohns but it got progressively worse over the next year. Cancer had been mentioned but had been ruled out. In September 1987, Black & Decker paid for him to go private at the Royal Victoria Infirmary for further investigation. It was whilst he was at the RVI that they diagnosed him with the later stages of Bowel Cancer. At this point we were given the devastating news that at most he had 3 months left. In the November of that year he was released from hospital to be cared for at home which were his wishes. As a family we made the most of the time he had left. He started to build a model warship which he completed.
His health failing and the one wish that he had was to be able to sail his model warship. Mam made arrangements at the local comprehensive school that my brother & I attended at the time for him to sail it in the school swimming pool. He got his final wish and sailed his ship on the Tuesday 23rd of February 1988. He passed away 5 days later peacefully on 28th February 1988 aged 40. My Mam became a widow at 38, I was 14 and my brother was 17. Shortly before he died he had arranged his own funeral with the guidance from an officer from the TA and so he had a partial military funeral which made me both sad but extremely proud.
His memory still lives on at the Newton Aycliffe Armoury, two portraits were painted by an officer’s wife and hung in the mess halls and we all were presented with copies which I have hanging pride and place in my living room. A yearly sporting event at the TA centre was named after him and the THOMPSON TROPHY was born. I also still have the model warship that he built.
When I myself turned 40 in 2013 it started preying on my mind as I had been told by the family history department at North Tees that I am medium to high risk. When I saw the advertisement in our local paper for the Great Aycliffe Cancer Support Group I jumped at the chance and contacted Allison as was not sure whether we would be eligible to join but were quickly welcomed with open arms.
Both Mam and I started attending December, 2015 and have been each month ever since. It has been one of the best decisions we have made as we have met some amazing and inspirational people. In February 2016 I became Secretary for the group which I thoroughly enjoy.