A Bristol dad who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer is now devoting his time to coaching kids and raising money for charity.
When Stuart Gillies experienced severe stomach pains in 2015 he rushed to see his GP.
But doctors reassured the 38-year-old, from Horfield, it was IBS and sent him home.
Weeks later the pain intensified and made it hard for the dad-of-two to work or even sleep.
After attending Southmead Hospital’s A&E in the middle of the night, the publishing company owner was told the earth-shattering news he had non-hodgkin lymphoma.
“For the first few minutes all I could think about was not being able to see my kids grow up and the guilt of leaving it all on my wife.” said Stuart.
“But then I snapped out of it. I knew I was going to beat it. I think it was harder for my friends and family because they felt helpless.
“At the time I had never heard of lymphoma, cancer was a term that captured every type of the disease and still in my early 30s it never occurred that it could happen to me.”
He underwent six weeks of gruelling chemotherapy at Southmead Hospital’s oncology centre when he struggled with weight loss, sickness and tiredness.
“The nurses were amazing,” he said.
“They make you feel very relaxed and welcome, it was as close to being enjoyable as it could have been.”
Scans revealed the tumours had disappeared and for now Stuart only needs to undergo regular testings.
“They will never say that you have gone into remission or that you are cured.
“They’ll never say it’s gone away, it’s just not there right now.
“There’s a reasonable chance it will come back and you just have to accept that and move on.”
Now Stuart is backing Stand Up To Cancer, a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.
He has sponsored the under 11s Avon Athletic team, which he coaches, to wear Cancer Research T-shirts.
“Cancer is a disease which affects many people and I wanted to sponsor the team I coach and rather than have the name of my company on their shirts, I thought it would be good to have the name Cancer Research UK blazoned on them as it is a reminder that this disease doesn’t discriminate – it affects everyone.
“I love football coaching and thanks to the highly respected and experienced coach John Black, together we enjoy being on the pitch and keeping us and the kids fit.
They are a pleasure to be around.”
What is Stand up to Cancer?
The campaign unites scientists, celebrities and communities across the UK, raising money to take developments from the lab and transform them, quickly, into brand new tests and treatments.
Alison Birkett, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the South West, said: “We’d like to thank Stuart and his team for their colourful support. We hope their transformation will inspire people across Bristol to find their own fun way to raise money.
“Whether it’s accountants transforming into punks, police officers dressing as burglars or teachers donning school uniforms, the unpredictable dress up is a fun and easy way to get involved and raise money.”
How can you get involved?
People in Bristol are being encouraged to get involved in Stand Up To Cancer’s Fortnight of Fundraising from 11-25 October by requesting a free fundraising pack.
They can choose to fundraise in their own way or pick from a host of ideas, like the unpredictable dress up challenge.
And for those who want to show their support for the campaign in style, a fun range of clothing and accessories is also available online .
In the South West around 90 people are diagnosed with cancer every day.
Alison added: “By supporting Stand Up To Cancer, our supporters will be helping to fund game-changing research, to make a huge difference to cancer patients and their families.
“There’s been amazing progress in the past few decades and more people are surviving cancer than ever before. But one in two of us in the UK will develop the disease at some point in our lifetime. That’s why we need as many people as possible to get involved. There’s power in numbers and if we all work together we can defeat anything, even cancer.”
Since it was launched in the UK in 2012, Stand Up To Cancer has raised over £62 million to fund 52 pioneering clinical trials and research projects.
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