Richard Davies, 36, was told four weeks ago that he has stage four colon cancer which has spread to other parts of his body.
He was given a prognosis of just three to six months to live but has now been put forward for breakthrough major surgery – known as the ‘mother of all surgeries’ – if chemotherapy shrinks the tumours enough.
This small glimmer of hope prompted his family and friends to act, and now plans are under way to stage a lavish ball complete with live music, fine dining, fire-breathers and an auction.
The aim is to try to raise £50,000 to pay for a type of chemotherapy not currently funded by the NHS, as well as helping with the hidden costs of cancer.
Richard, who lives in Overstone and owns his own business, has suffered with bowel issues for years but despite repeat visits to the doctors, he was told he was too young for it to be anything sinister, and was often sent home with a laxative and paracetamol.
Things came to a head two months ago when he ended up in A&E with crippling stomach pains. Following a CT scan and colonoscopy, Richard was initially told he had stage two cancer and that he would need an operation to remove the tumour.
However, shortly afterwards Richard was once again back in hospital, but this time close to death. Severely dehydrated and with his bowel on the brink of rupturing, he was rushed to theatre. An emergency operation revealed a further 25 tumours.
Richard said: “When I was put under anaesthetic I had stage two cancer, when I woke up I was told it was stage four and that I had three months to live.
“I spent the night embracing my girlfriend – we said our goodbyes. We thought this was the end. My parents were distraught, saying they wished it was happening to them and how they’d do anything to swap places with me.”
However, Richard was offered a glimmer of hope when doctors said he just might be a candidate for major surgery at a specialist clinic in Basingstoke if chemotherapy was successful in shrinking the tumours enough to prove the cancer could be got under control.
The treatment – known as CRS and HIPAS – involves a 16-hour operation to remove evidence of cancer in the abdomen as well as all the organs with cancer that Richard can survive without. Part of the procedure also sees a warmed chemotherapy bath poured directly into Richard’s open chest and abdomen to try to eliminate any remaining microscopic cancer cells.
First Richard has to undergo a gruelling 12-week course of chemotherapy, starting this month, during which he says doctors are “throwing everything at me”.
Richard said: “They asked me if I was up for a fight and I said, ‘absolutely’. I have gone from having no hope and facing my own death, to having something to aim at. The difference that makes mentally is huge.
“Over the years, I have developed an in-built resilience and I’m going to face this cancer head-on. The support I’ve had so far has been totally overwhelming, so that’s really kept me going, too.”
The black-tie event is being held on July 23 at Turvey House in Bedfordshire, with a charity auction including a Liverpool FC season ticket, private dining events for the family and holidays around Europe.
This isn’t the first time Richard’s friends and family have united to stage an event at short notice – after being given his prognosis, Richard decided to marry his girlfriend of four years, Lisa Reid, with their wedding being organised in just five days. Richard came out of hospital on the Thursday and married Lisa on the Monday.
The couple have also decided to start IVF treatment, with Richard saying: “Chemotherapy is likely to make me infertile. If the worst should happen to me, the idea that Lisa will have a mini me running around annoying her, is something we both agreed we’d try to make happen. If I do die, I will go a lot happier if Lisa and I were to have a baby together.”
Richard also wants to raise awareness of colon and bowel cancer after he faced an uphill battle to be diagnosed.
He said: “Nobody should be given a stage four diagnosis off the bat. In this day and age, that’s unacceptable. It means that numerous opportunities have been missed so if I can make just one person reading this go for a colonoscopy, or to go to the GP, then it will have been worthwhile.
“My prognosis is dismal. The odds are firmly against me surviving this, but there is a chance and while there is a chance, then there is hope.”
Dozens of Richard’s friends and family have stepped up and are also helping with the special event, which includes a guest chef along with a fire-breathing burlesque act, magicians and a DJ.
Several local businesses have pledged their support, with CPL Ltd the main sponsor of the event.
The event is being hosted free of charge at Turvey House, a family-owned country house used for outdoor events, weddings and festivals.
For anyone who wants to donate a prize or become a sponsor of the event, contact [email protected] or call 01604 882342