Former Donington student, who has been given up to 12 months left to live, has one last wish
As she listened to the words of the doctor, Emma Wright struggled to take in what he was telling her.
After suffering with increasingly bad stomach pains over the past two years, along with weight loss, she knew something was not right.
She had made numerous visits to various GPs but had been told her symptoms could be anything from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) to trapped wind, acid reflux or an iron deficiency.
It was only after days of agony during lockdown, when her husband Chris (47) called 111, that she was called into Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital with suspected appendicitis. There, a CT scan on April 17 showed something else entirely – suspected bowel cancer.
After further tests the cancer was confirmed. It was terminal, stage four, and had spread. Emma (37) was given a prognosis of up to just 12 months left to live.
Only the year before she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer but it was removed. Now the family was facing more shocking news.
A former Donington Thomas Cowley student and mum-of-three, Emma said: “When they first suspected bowel cancer, our emotions were all over the place. They said ‘you need surgery and chemotherapy’. Everything happened so quickly. There were sleepless nights and the kids did not know whether to believe it or not. I had to have a biopsy to confirm it.”
When the diagnosis was confirmed, the couple tearfully broke the news to their children Jamie-Leigh (19), Crystal-Jade (18) and Boedi-Marc (15). They also have a grandson, Lincoln (2), who is Jamie-Leigh’s son.
With a number of tumours found in Emma’s large intestine, liver and lymph nodes, doctors proposed removing a significant part of her intestine and bowel, followed by intensive chemotherapy, to give her longer to live.
“We asked ‘what is the extra time value?’” Chris said, “and they said ‘six months’. We said for two thirds of that Em was going to be sick. Between us, me and Em and the kids, we said we will speak about it and they did not want to see her really bald and ill.
“The surgery was to cut from just under her breastbone to just under the pubic bone and they wanted to remove a third of her bowel and give her a stoma bag, and intensive chemotherapy.
“She was booked in for the surgery but on the morning I woke her up to take her and she was just crying.”
“It did not feel right,” Emma explained.
Chris added: “I was trying to get her into the car and she was just crying. We started the journey and she said ‘just turn around and go home. It will kill me.”
Emma said: “I remember the date because it was May 19, our grandson’s birthday.”
Talking about what the surgery would entail, followed by enduring chemotherapy, Chris said: “Can you imagine how you would feel after that? What do you do? This is the person that you love. I said ‘it is your life and you have to live it your way.’”
Now the couple, who today live in Wainfleet St Mary, have begun trying alternative different treatments for Emma, a British Heart Foundation assistant manager in Skegness.
“We’ve been trying everything,” said Chris, “homeopathic remedies, cannabis (CBD) oils, vitamin drinks and juicing.”
Chris, who works in caravan maintenance, is also raising money to make Emma’s last wish come true to travel around the UK – and parts of Europe if the easing of lockdown regulations allow. He wants to be able to buy a motor home to make that possible.
“I had a dream about an RV (motor home) with loads and loads of people sat around it. In an RV we have a home from home and me and Em always wanted to travel and do all the stuff we did not get to do while raising a family.
“We want to see our country and some of Europe and still be able to give Em everything she needs to be healthy for as long as possible. People have asked us why can’t we just have a beautiful holiday but Em can’t make the journey so the only way for us to do anything or travel or see anything different is to do it on wheels.”
The couple, who also have a five-month old puppy called Buddy, have been together for 20 years. Emma lived in Quadring and went to the village primary school. Chris grew up in Swineshead and his family ran the post office.
They both later went to the Thomas Cowley High School in Donington but didn’t get together until Emma was 17 when they met in the Market Place in Donington while out with friends.
Emma’s siblings still live in Quadring and Donington and her sister Nicola Bristow runs the bar at Lake Ross in West Pinchbeck.
"Can you imagine how you would feel after that? What do you do? This is the person that you love. I said ‘it is your life and you have to live it your way.’”
Nicola is organising a fundraising fishing tournament to help boost funds to make Emma’s last wish possible.
Emma hopes that by telling her story, if other people with similar symptoms read it, it will help them pursue their symptoms with their doctor.
“If I die, but if I can save one other person, I have done some good,” she said,
She added that she had asked on numerous occasions for a CT scan over the years but never saw the same GP twice.
“You know your own body,” Emma explained.
Chris added: “I have seen Em have three kids without pain medication and she is rocking forwards and backwards in the bed crying her eyes out and they are saying it is IBS.”
Today, the family are aiming to keep Emma as comfortable as possible and enjoy the time they all have together.
To donate to the fundraiser go to www.gofundme.com and type in ‘Emma’s last wish’ or click here.