‘Irfon would have been delighted’
Gwasg Carreg Gwalch THE late cancer campaigner Irfon Williams would have been “delighted” his autobiography has been published in time for Christmas, according to his editor.
Mr Williams started writing Hawl i Fyw (Right to Live) more than a year ago, and completed it shortly before hiss death in May this year.
The father-of-five and mental health nurse successfullyy lobbied the Welsh Government over access to drugs for cancer patients in Wales.
In the book, Mr Williams, who was from Bangor, tells readers not to accept “what the politicians and doctors tell you”, adding: “After all, everyone has the right to live.”
His troubles began in January 2014 when he was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer.
He married his wife Becky almost immediately but instead of a honeymoon he had three months of chemotherapy and organised a campaign that raised £70,000 to help other cancer patients.
In the introduction to the book, Mrs Williams wrote: “He was determined to finish this book for his story to be a permanent reminder, a chronicle of his life, for his children especially.
“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 chal- lenge the political system in Wales at the same time as fighting cancer.”
Nia Roberts, who edited the book, said Mr Williams wrote all of it apart from the last three chapters when he was too weak so she typed up his words.
She said: “He wanted to focus on his battle for treatment and on the politics.
“He writes about his chchildhood and training toto be a nurse – which made him stronger and more able to deal with ththe cancer.”
In 2015, Mr Williams was refused a potentially liflife-prolonging cancer drdrug.
He lobbied the Welsh GGovernment to end the ininequality that saw Englislish patients able to benefiefit from Cetuximab wwhile Welsh patients cocould not.
Mr Williams had to mmove from his Bangor hohome to live in England toto get the drug. Mrs Roberts said: “He was determined to finish the book to show his battle to get the drug Cetuximab available for cancer patients in Wales. He wanted people to question decisions made by doctors and in everyday life.
“He knew what he wanted to accomplish and had promised the book would be published before Christmas – and has kept to it. He would be delighted with that.”
An English version will hopefully be published next year.
Hawl i Fyw published by Carreg Gwalch at £6.95 will be launched at Clwb Rygbi Bangor tonight at 7.30pm by Elin Fflur and Rhys Meirion with Llion Williams reading excerpts. Free entry and everybody welcome.
Irfon Williams playing the euphonium with Seindorf Beaumaris Band and playing rugby – he loved being on the field. (Above right) Cover of Irfon Williams’ autobiography Hawl i Fyw ● Irfon and Becky with all the children pictured in August 2011