18 months ago Ross Guyton was diagnosed with goblet cell adenocarcinoma after a suspected appendicitis.
Ross first noticed signs when he and his family invited friends over for lunch, not feeling very well partway through, Ross went upstairs to lie down.
Five minutes later, Joanna received a phone call from Ross, but complete silence followed. Knowing something was wrong Joanna and her children ran upstairs only to find Ross struggling to breathe and get words out.
The family quickly rang 999. Joanna and Ross’ daughter, Harriet (only 14-years-old at the time) expresses how utterly helpless she felt. “I felt like a spectator. My dad’s lips were blue, and he was shaking uncontrollably. The paramedics arrived shortly after in full PPE which was very scary as we had all been so careful not to contract covid, they quickly assessed my dad and his last words to my mum before being stretchered into the ambulance was ‘I honestly thought I was going to die.’”
After a few assessments at the hospital, Ross was told he had appendicitis. He was put on a strong dose of antibiotics, remained in hospital for four days, and was then later sent home, after the decision was made not to operate as it posed too risky during the height of covid.
Ross later had his appendix removed once they realised it had begun to rupture and had to have open surgery to remove it. He then regularly attended hospital appointments on his own (due to covid rules) over the next few weeks.
During one of Ross’ appointments Joanna received a call from Ross asking her to come into the ward. Joanna’s stomach flipped; she knew something wasn’t right simply from being asked to come into the hospital when the rules were so strict. Then came the devastating news, Ross had cancer. Ross had a tumour that had spread from his appendix and attached itself to his stomach lining, known as goblet cell adenocarcinoma.
Ross and Joanna then had the traumatic task of telling their children. Their daughter, Harriet retells how she felt: “I remember being told by my Mum, everything went in slow motion, a lot of emotions hit me hard. Anger, disappointment, devastation, heartbreak and many more.
“You frequently hear the shocking statistics that 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer. I never imagined it would actually happen to us as a family.
“I never imagined that I might face losing a parent at the tender age of 14 – until the day when I received the dreaded news – my dad had cancer.
“The next couple of years turned out to be a roller coaster of emotions. It was going to require me to be strong for myself, my mum and most importantly for my dad himself. I knew deep down that my dad would beat cancer, if anyone was going to it would be him.”
Now a year on from receiving his diagnosis Ross has recovered from treatment and in Harriet’s words their “family is now stronger than ever.”
To celebrate Ross’ recovery, Joanna and her friend Rachel have decided to take on the challenge to walk 26 miles in aid of Big C. All the way from Alysham to what will be Big C’s new Centre on Dereham Road in Norwich.
When asked why they decided to fundraise for Big C, Joanna said: “Our lives have both been very closely affected by cancer – Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer on Christmas Eve 2014 and had to undergo major surgery in 2015 and thankfully she is now 7 years clear.”
Joanna and Rachel felt they wanted to give something back to a cancer charity that would help patients and their families, they thought the new build on Dereham Road was the perfect fit, and particularly liked the idea of fundraising for the garden at the Centre, with Rachel’s husband being a Landscape Gardener and Ross a Silviculturist.
Joanna said: “During difficult times we have all found great solace in being outside and the gardens at the Big C development on Dereham Road will provide invaluable comfort to those that visit them.”
Unfortunately Joanna knows this well, from further relatives and friends who are undergoing breast cancer treatment.
Joanna said: “Sadly, we are at the age where it is unlikely that people don’t know someone who has been affected by cancer in some way. However due to the Big C’s support and research there are many more positive outcomes.”
Joanna and Rachel will be undertaking their challenge along with family and friends on 14th May. To help Big C support families like the Guyton’s donate to their fundraiser here.