David's Story - told by his wife Julie


Name: David Whomes

Age: 53

Lives: Stowmarket

Diagnosis: Oesophageal cancer 

For about a year my husband David complained when he ate greasy food, saying it made him feel sick, but that was all.

Then in October 2019 he felt tired and had a cough.  It wasn’t a bad cough but a cough none the less.  He also felt slight indigestion which didn’t go after taking Gaviscon.  I made an appointment for the doctors who told David that he had acid reflux.  She prescribed him some medication and said it should feel much better in a few days.  After a week he was no better so I took him back.  The doctor asked if she could feel his tummy and when she pressed-down he nearly shot through the roof and he actually burst into tears.  She told him she thought it was gall stones and that she would organise an ultra sound for that week. 

Two days later David went to the toilet and collapsed in terrible pain.  I called 111 who said that David sounded so distressed that they would send an ambulance which took an hour and a half to arrive.  We were then taken straight to Bury St Edmunds hospital where we sat in the waiting room for four hours as they were very busy!  When they finally saw David at 1 am, they took some blood but by then David was so poorly he passed out in the room.  They called for a trolley and we were then put in a cubicle.  David went for an X-ray and when he came back the doctor said it was gall stones and David would have an op in the morning.

I went home at 4 am and went back to the hospital later that morning.  David had a cat scan and an endoscopy.

Two days later we still hadn’t had the results.  We asked what on earth was going on as David was still so poorly, had a high temperature and was in dreadful pain in his tummy.  Finally, at 3pm we were asked to go to the doctor’s office where we were told David had a tumour in his oesophagus which had spread to his liver and both lungs.  There are just no words to begin to describe how we felt.  We were completely shocked and devastated.  We just couldn’t take in how it had gone from reflux, to gall stones, to cancer!

We were given medication to take away with us, as David just wanted to go home.

Sadly we weren’t home for long.  Two days later we were back in hospital as David had awful pain in his shoulder and was very sick.  We stayed in for seven days where he picked up infection after infection, all the time waiting for chemo to start but he became so ill so quickly we never got the chance to have it.  Bury Hospital caused us a lot of distress as they didn’t ever seem to get control of David’s pain and it was unbearable to see him like that.

After a few days wait, we finally moved him to St Elizabeth’s Hospice in Ipswich, where they were amazing!  They got him back on a medication regime that made him feel so much better that after five days we came home again. 

District nurses then came in everyday as David was on a syringe driver to manage his pain.  He was so desperate to be home for his birthday and we managed to stay home for a week.  By the 19th December David was so terribly poorly we had to go back in the hospice.  This is where we stayed until my love passed away on Christmas Day 2019….. 5 weeks from diagnosis we had not even accepted David's illness let alone him leaving us........

We will miss him forever and as a family are devastated by his loss. He was the kindest, strongest and happiest man we have ever known.  If sharing our very painful story can help just one other person, then it was worth it.  If you notice something unusual in yourself on a regular basis, please get it checked out.

Association with HCUK: 

Julie got in contact with HCUK via our Facebook on-line support group.  David and Julie's daughter Laura, has written this beautiful song in tribute to her father.