Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy to be re­leased


Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Eryl Crump

CAN­CER cam­paigner Ir­fon Wil­liams urges those in his sit­u­a­tion to “go and find your own an­swers” in a poignant and of­ten can­did au­to­bi­og­ra­phy fin­ished just days be­fore he died.

The fa­ther-of-five from Ban­gor, who lob­bied the Welsh Gov­ern­ment over ac­cess to drugs for can­cer pa­tients in Wales, tells read­ers not to ac­cept “what the politi­cians and doc­tors tell you”, adding: “Af­ter all, ev­ery­one has the right to live.”

Mr Wil­liams started writ­ing Hawl i Fyw (Right to Live) in 2016 and com­pleted the man­u­script shortly be­fore his death in May.

In the in­tro­duc­tion, his wife Becky writes: “This is the au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of a lov­ing hus­band, proud fa­ther and a Welsh­man to the core.

“It is a very per­sonal story in which Ir­fon ex­plains his can­cer jour­ney, his child­hood and the in­flu­ences that made my hus­band so brave and charis­matic.

“It is a record of his life and hu­mour, the ela­tion and heart­break he re­ceived as a re­sult of the treat­ment, and his de­ci­sion to chal­lenge the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem in Wales at the same time as fight­ing can­cer.

“When Ir­fon died on May 30 at Ys­byty Gwynedd in Ban­gor, it shat­tered my life. We were hap­pi­est when we were to­gether and hated be­ing apart.

“Although Ir­fon’s bat­tle had been a pub­lic one, the end was very pri­vate. We were sit­ting to­gether, hold­ing hands, when he took his last breath.”

Mr Wil­liams was di­ag­nosed with ad­vanced bowel can­cer in Jan­uary 2014, when nag­ging wor­ries about weight loss and crip­pling stom­ach pains he’d suf­fered over Christ­mas were con­firmed by doc­tors at Ys­byty Gwynedd.

He mar­ried Mrs Wil­liams al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the di­ag­no­sis but, in­stead of a hon­ey­moon, it was three months of chemo­ther­apy and or­gan­is­ing his #teamir­fon fundrais­ing cam­paign.

“The char­i­ta­ble work gave me a pos­i­tive fo­cus which I en­joyed very much,” he writes.

Later, as his fight with can­cer pro­gressed, Ir­fon vis­ited schools and other or­gan­i­sa­tions to speak about his ex­pe­ri­ence. He writes that he was hav­ing prob­lems with his colostomy bag at the time and was prone to break­ing wind with­out warn­ing.

“One time it hap­pened in a lift at a ho­tel in Cardiff when there was a young cou­ple with me,” he writes.

“They must have thought I was born in a pig sty. Another time, the colostomy bag burst while I was out with friends, caus­ing a mess, and I had to go home and change.

“Al Prys (a friend) has the knack of see­ing the funny side of ev­ery­thing, and sent a mes­sage to ev­ery­one re­veal­ing I was the party pooper.” By sum­mer 2014, Mr Wil­liams was i in Ain­tree hos­pi­tal in Liver­pool, hav­ing treat­ment to re­move two tu­mours.

He ex­plains in the book that he was in a room with three other men, and he and another m man were very ill.

“An el­derly man was op­po­site me and next to him was a young man, Craig, who was home­less, and Nigel, who was un­der­go­ing ex­ten­sive treat­ment,” writes Mr W Wil­liams.

“I thought there was an odd colour to me be­cause of the jaun­dice, but Craig and Nigel w were bright yel­low.

“Craig was a char­ac­ter, a real S Scouser, and never still.

“He would say the weird­est t things to­tally un­ex­pect­edly to make us laugh. One morn­ing, while hav­ing break­fast, he said: ‘Look at us, we’re like a ward full of Min­ions!’

“He asked me if I had started med­i­ca­tion to stop drink­ing and, when I ex­plained my prob­lem, he be­gan apol­o­gis­ing and shak­ing my hand, ob­vi­ously em­bar­rassed he had com­pared our sit­u­a­tions.”

In 2015, Mr Wil­liams’ bat­tle grew when he was re­fused a po­ten­tially life-pro­long­ing can­cer drug.

He lob­bied and pressed the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to end the in­equal­ity that saw English pa­tients able to ben­e­fit from Ce­tux­imab while Welsh pa­tients could not.

But he had to en­dure the heartache of mov­ing from his Ban­gor home to Eng­land to get treat­ment.

Celebri­ties, sports stars and vol­un­teers joined the cam­paign to raise £70,000 for fel­low can­cer suf­fer­ers.

● Mr Wil­liams’ bat­tle is fully out­lined in the book, which will be pub­lished on Novem­ber 24. There will be an of­fi­cial book launch at Ban­gor Rugby Club.

● Ir­fon, pic­tured here with wife Becky. In the book’s in­tro­duc­tion she says of Ir­fon: ‘He was a lov­ing hus­band, proud fa­ther and a Welsh­man to the core.’ Inset be­low, Gareth Bale sup­ported the Hawl I Fyw cam­paign

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