My Dad didn't know he had bowel cancer

Stephen Fagg’s family was devastated when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He died a year later, aged 55, leaving his loved ones with bitter-sweet memories of the dad they cherished.

His daughter Keighley, who was 19 when she lost her father in 2007, tells his story.  

My dad, Stephen Murray Fagg was a Police Constable for Kent County Police, based at Canterbury. He served 26 years as a police officer and unfortunately was poorly for his last year before retirement.

During his police career he was a liaison officer for two families caught up in the 9/11 disaster, he did undercover work and held many other positions.

I was very proud to call him my dad.

I treasure the memories of the family time we all spent together (me, my mum Terri and my two sisters). But I can never forget the horrible experience we all went through which still makes me cry.

I miss my dad and wish things were different.

When he was first taken into Canterbury Hospital on May 4, 2006 with stomach pains he was told he probably had Crohn’s disease and was given steroids to help reduce the pain. Shortly afterwards he had an operation because doctors thought there might be a blockage.

That was when they discovered he was suffering from bowel cancer. They removed two tumours along with three-quarters of his bowel.

An emergency operation took place days later when dad’s bowel was removed and he was given a stoma.

Unfortunately, he got pneumonia and was sedated for 3-4 weeks. He then caught e-coli and suffered heart failure.

He was put on dialysis and given a tracheostomy (an opening in the throat and windpipe to help him breathe).

When he finally came home on August 24, after three months in the intensive care unit of the hospital, he was very weak. He needed physiotherapy and a walking frame and began the slow process of trying to build his strength.

Very sadly, that hoped-for recovery never came.

It turned out that the cancer had spread to his liver.

He started chemotherapy at Canterbury hospital in October 2006. But there was no hope.

He went back into hospital on March 30, 2007 and he chose to tell us himself that doctors had given him less then three months to live. Sadly, he passed away seven days later on April 25, 2007.

We all supported each other through the entire ordeal. It was the worst thing we as a family have had to go through.

I hope that telling our story will help someone else.

We don’t know if dad had symptoms of bowel cancer and just didn’t talk about them – because that’s what men do sometimes.

Please don’t ignore the symptoms of bowel cancer – stomach cramps, a change in bowel habits and blood in your faeces.

Bowel cancer can be treated if caught early enough and that could mean the difference between life and death.

Click here to read more about bowel cancer symptoms.