A DAD-of-three died just 16 days after doctors discovered his persistent cough was bowel cancer.
Trevor Walker, 56, had been ignoring what he thought was a chest infection for about two months.
The bathroom and kitchen fitter, from Plymouth, Devon, had no other symptoms and was otherwise “fit and healthy”.
But when he eventually went to see his doctor, he was shocked to be told it was actually terminal bowel cancer that had spread to his lungs.
Football-mad part-time referee Trevor sadly died exactly 16 days later – his last words to his family were “I love you all”.
Wife Mandie, 50, said: “The first time Trevor and I heard the words bowel cancer from the doctors, we were stunned.
“We cried into each other’s arms and said ‘we’ll fight this, we’ll get through it, it will be fine’.
It was such a shock. He had no symptoms. He had regular bowel movements, there wasn’t any blood.
All he had was this cough that everyone seemed to have.
“But it turned out the fluid on his lungs was secondary cancer because the bowel cancer had spread so far and so fast. It was devastating.”
Knowing the early warning signs of bowel cancer can save lives, catch the disease at stage 1 and 97 per cent of people live five years or longer.
But catch it at stage 4 – when it’s already spread – and that survival rate plummets to just seven per cent.
That’s why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer – and to break down the poo taboo, and get everyone talking and thinking about their insides.
Mandie added: “From the day he was diagnosed to the day he died, was just 16 days. It was really traumatic seeing him deteriorate so rapidly.
“He lost so much weight, he was all skin and bones.
“He went from having no symptoms whatsoever just this cough that everyone put down to a chest infection.
“He was a football referee so he was always running around the pitch – usually three or four times a week – as well as working.
“For him to go downhill like that in 16 days – everybody was in total shock.
“I was there and our three children were all there with him when he went. His very last words were ‘I love you all’.
“I lost my soul mate after 32 beautiful years together. I hold onto all the memories we had together – even those 16 days.”
Trevor developed the chesty cough just before Christmas 2017 and visited his GP in early January 2018 who put him on a 10-day course of antibiotics.
When his cough hadn’t cleared up by the end of January, Trevor went back to the doctor and underwent a chest x-ray which showed fluid on his lungs consistent with a chest infection.
The granddad-of-three was put on a second 10-day course of antibiotics in the hopes it would shift the fluid but Trevor’s cough persisted.
By early February, Trevor had become “down and depressed” as he could no longer go to work, run around the football pitch or even walk more than 50 metres without getting breathless.
Constant coughing and spluttering also left Trevor unable to sleep unless he was sitting up and Mandie would often have to pat his back through the night to clear his chest.
But the couple never worried it was anything more than a chest infection until one day Mandie noticed Trevor had lost a lot of weight when she saw him getting out of the shower.
At the time Madie’s mum Julia Hammacott, who died aged 71 in May this year, had just been diagnosed with lung cancer and was also experiencing a bad cough and weight loss.
After expressing concerns to the doctor, Trevor was referred to a specialist for blood tests and a biopsy of his lungs which revealed he had bowel cancer.
Further blood tests and a bowel biopsy confirmed that the cancer was so advanced it could no longer be treated and Trevor was given three weeks to live.
Trevor spent his final days in hospital on oxygen 24 hours a day to help him breathe and struggling to eat more than a couple of mouthfuls of food a day after losing his appetite.
Trevor, who refereed three times a week for his local team in Plymouth, Devon, died on March 1, 2018, surrounded by his loved ones.