Outliving your Children

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Wendy Gough never believed she would outlive her own children, but when her son Matthew died of testicular cancer just 10 days after his 19th birthday all that changed.

Matthew’s testicle was removed, and even after courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy the cancer had spread to Matthew’s lungs and brain. He died in June 1988.

“You don’t think your kids will die before you,” said Wendy, of Beechwood Avenue, in St Albans. “You make plans for their future, make sure they have a good education and see that they’re brought up nicely.

“When Matthew was diagnosed with cancer the bottom dropped out of our life. It devastated the whole family, his brother Andrew was only 16 at the time. I want to stop what happened to Matthew, happening to someone else.”

She said: “Matthew was a funny boy, he always seemed to be in a hurry to live and had an old head on young shoulders. He was a very nice, well-behaved boy. Testicular cancer quite often affects quiet, calm and gentle men - I don’t know why.

“He kept saying to me that they taught him lots of stuff at school that he wouldn’t use in 100 years, but the one thing they could have taught him could have saved his life. A half-an-hour talk on cancer awareness really does save lives.

“There is a 99 per cent survival rate for testicular cancer if it’s caught early enough. Matthew only left it six weeks before he told me there was something wrong. We had such an open relationship. He just thought because it the lump didn’t hurt, it wasn’t anything to worry about.

“He was 18 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was in and out of Mount Vernon Hospital and was eventually transferred to Middlesex Hospital. At one stage he couldn’t have chemotherapy for two weeks because his kidneys were in such a bad state.

“In those two weeks the cancer spread to the rest of his body. He was actually told in February that he only had a couple of weeks to live but he managed to hold on. He was 19 years and 10 days when he died, just seven months after he was first diagnosed with testicular cancer.”

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