A cancer diagnosis has shattered the newly-found bliss of a Littlehampton couple, who fell in love after thirty years of friendship.
Sally Fullard and Tony Hampton started their relationship in February this year.
Sally, 44, said: “I knew he was the one. He’s absolutely amazing, I can’t fault him in any way.”
But just a few months into their romance earlier this year, Tony, a 55-year-old grandfather, complained of bowel problems.
By the time he went to the doctor in June, he was found to have stage four metastatic anal cancer.
Sally said: “You can imagine, it completely threw everything up in the air, all our plans for the future. It seems so unfair.”
Tony, who worked in traffic management before his diagnosis, started chemotherapy treatment in Brighton for the cancer, which had spread to his lymph nodes, liver and lung.
Sally cut down to working part time as a support worker in order to care for him but this, coupled with problems in claiming Tony’s personal independence payments, has left them struggling financially.
“I’ve had to give up almost everything,” said Sally, whose 16-year-old, Harry, is currently working towards exams. “It’s a big change in our lives.”
The family were given a further scare this week when Tony was admitted to hospital on Wednesday with what turned out to be a heart complication.
Sally said it hit home the ‘frightening’ reality of the illess for the couple, who had been trying their best to carry on as normal.
Looking to the future, Sally said they are waiting to find out how the treatment is working. “Life is on hold,” she said.
Sally has set up a fundraising page to help them cope with costs – donate to the page here.
Any funds left over will be donated to the Sussex Care Centre in Brighton, which Sally said had been ‘absolutely fantastic’.
The money will help cover transport to the centre where, in January, Tony will begin five-and-a-half weeks of daily radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.
Until then, the pair are hoping to enjoy Christmas together. While there will not be many presents this year, Sally said they were looking forward to spending time with family.
Sally said she hoped sharing their story will encourage others to seek help if they suspect they might have bowel problems.
“If you have bowel problems go to the doctor. I can’t say that strongly enough,” she said.
“Nobody wants to talk about their bowel habits with anybody. But don’t be embarrassed.”
She added: “Don’t be where we are now. It’s horrible and scary.”