‘EVERYONE HAS RIGHT TO LIVE’
The words of dying dad who fought for cancer drug
ACANCER campaigner has said “everyone has the right to live” in an autobiography penned days before his death.
Irfon Williams, from Bangor, was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in January 2014, but he was denied a drug that potentially could have prolonged his life.
The father of five spent his time lobbying the Welsh Government for access to drugs for cancer patients in Wales, like in England, before tragically losing his own battle against the disease in May.
Now in his autobiography, Hawl i Fyw (Right to Live), he said that those in his situation should “go and find your own answers”, telling readers not to accept “what the politicians and doctors are telling you”.
He added: “After all, everyone has the right to live.”
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 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 bowel cancer after worries about weight loss and crippling stomach pains he’d suffered over Christmas were confirmed by doctors at Ysbyty Gwynedd.
He married Rebecca 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 in the book.
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 pigsty.
“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 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 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 treat- ment,” writes Mr Williams.
“I thought there was an odd colour to me because of the jaundice, but Craig and Nigel were bright yellow.
“Craig was a character, a real Scouser, and never still. He would say the weirdest 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 had to endure 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.
Irfon Williams with wife Rebecca. Irfon wrote his autobiography while battling bowel cancer. He died on May 30
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