‘Fit and healthy’ dad, 56, dies 16 days after docs discover persistent cough was bowel cancer


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.

Trevor Walker, 56, died of bowel cancer – 16 days after being diagnosed
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The ‘fit and healthy’ dad-of-three had been suffering with a persistent cough, but put it down to a chest infection
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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’.

We cried into each other’s arms and said ‘we’ll fight this, we’ll get through it, it will be fine’

Mandie Walker

“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.

‘It was traumatic’

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.”

No other symptoms

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.

Trevor with his wife Mandie, 50, who noticed he was starting to lose weight
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Trevor and Mandie with their daughter Kerrie, 26, at her university graduation
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Trevor, far right, with his family at their son Luke’s wedding to wife Sarah
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Since the dad’s death, the local community have rallied around Mandie and sons Luke, 31, and Barrie-John, 24, and daughter Kerrie, 26.

Mandie said: “Trevor was one of those people – everybody knew him and everybody loved him.

“He would do absolutely anything for anybody. If he only had a tenner to his name and you needed a tenner, he would give it to you.

“We got together 32 years ago. I met him in a pub. He used to play darts and I worked behind the bar. I just loved the look of him. He was full of confidence and had great banter.

“Losing him has been so hard but we are a strong family. We have all really pulled together and we have had so much support from people around us.

“It has been so helpful and everyone has a nice word to say which makes it a bit easier.”

Warning others

Mandie has realised the importance of never ignoring a persistent cough and wants other people to understand that they can be a sign of serious illness.

She said: “Since Trevor’s diagnosis I have gone over the symptoms of bowel cancer but he didn’t have any of them.

“Although the symptoms are there as a guide, there’s always going to be exceptions to the rules and that’s what people need to think about more.

“If I come across anyone now with a persistent cough, I tell them to make sure they get it checked out by a doctor.

“In the past if it was me and I’d had the same cough as Trevor, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the doctor.

“It’s so easy to just brush it off as just a cough, especially when you see that everyone has one.


THE Sun’s No Time 2 Lose campaign aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

And it called on the Government to lower the screening age from 60 to 50 – to bring it in line with Scotland.

Last summer, the health secretary Matt Hancock listened and agreed to start bowel cancer screening at 50 – meaning everyone in England will get a test on their 50th birthday.

A date for the roll out of screening at 50 has yet to be announced.

But the move could save more than 4,500 lives a year, experts say.

Bowel cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease, but it can be cured if it’s caught early – or better still prevented.

Caught at stage 1 – the earliest stage – patients have a 97 per cent chance of living for five years or longer.

But catch it at stage 4 – when it’s already spread – and that chance plummets to just seven per cent.

Last April, Lauren Backler, whose mum died of the disease at the age of 55, joined forces with The Sun to launch the No Time 2 Lose campaign, also supported by Bowel Cancer UK.

Lauren delivered a petition to the Department of Health complete with almost 450,000 signatures, to put pressure on the Government to change the screening age – a move that could save the NHS millions.

She believes her mum could have been saved if screening had been available – and now campaigns to ensure others don’t lose their loved ones to this potentially curable disease.

Trevor with his wife Mandie in hospital shortly before he passed away
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Mandie and Trevor on their wedding day 25 years ago
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“But actually now I know that it’s not always going to be fine. A persistent cough can be a sign of something really serious.

“And the doctors are there to help you, you just need to go see them.”

The NHS class a cough as persistent if it lasts more than three weeks and states that if a cough doesn’t clear up on it’s own within the first 21 days, people should visit their GP.

Mandie says she lost her ‘soul mate’ when husband Trevor passed away 16 days after being diagnosed with cancer
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Mandie sits on Trevor’s memorial bench in Tavistock, Plymouth
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Mandie with her children Barrie-John, Kerrie and Luke, who she says keep her strong
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