Chris Rowe, a 31-year-old family man from Gloucester, England, had a cough for six months. His doctor repeatedly told him he probably just had a “simple virus,” even though he began coughing up blood.
After Rowe’s ribs began to ache and he started coughing up more blood, he was taken to an emergency room, where an X-ray revealed he has an aggressive form of lung cancer that had already spread to his liver and bones. In December, Rowe learned his cancer was terminal. His wife Kate is pregnant with their second child, a boy named Max who is due in June.
In February, Rowe decided to undergo aggressive chemotherapy to prolong his life so he can watch Max and his 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, grow up.
“Kate and I were so shocked as there is no history of any type of cancer in my family,” he told the Daily Mail. Despite the toll of chemotherapy and the fact that he can no longer work at the company he owned and operated, ASAP Plastering, Rowe is fighting for his future. “Our little girl, Sophia helps keep my spirits high,” he said. “I'm so excited to meet our baby boy, Max, in June too and that definitely helps keep me going.”
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Rowe credits his wife and friends for making his life easier, even while he made the difficult decision to sell his business. “'I knew I couldn't continue with such a physical job while going through chemotherapy. It has made me very tired and weak so selling it wasn't an option, I had to,” he said. “I am in constant pain with the cancer and I feel very sick most of the time due to the chemotherapy.”
Rowe’s long-time friend, Lee Bowtell set up a GoFundMe page to help support the family financially because Rowe can no longer work. So far, donors have raised the equivalent of $20,500, in 16 days. “To say (Chris and Kate) have been through a lot is an understatement, they are two of the most beautiful and amazing people I have ever met and they are basically family to me,” Bowtell wrote on the fundraising page. Bowtell also plans to do a bike ride in July to raise money for Rowe and his family.
Rowe was grateful for the outpouring of support from friends and strangers. “It's unbelievable how well the fundraising page has done already, it's amazing how many people want to help us and I can't thank Lee enough for setting it up,” he said. “It has taken a huge strain off of our family and we feel like I can focus on Max's arrival in June rather than how to cope financially.”
Despite his gratitude, Rowe hopes his battle has another outcome — improved screening for lung cancer. At the time of his diagnosis, he seemed like a healthy young man, which is why he thinks it was so difficult for him to get the necessary medical attention.
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“I'm not one of those people who visit the doctor for no reason and they could see that from my medical records,” he said. “I knew something was seriously wrong, but no one would listen to me because I'm deemed too young for lung cancer.”
Image via GoFundMe