A 30-year-old man from Leeds, England, is speaking out about the impact of bile duct cancer to raise awareness of the little-known disease.
Liam Crossley had only been married to Lucy a few months when the 29-year-old died in February 2015 from the cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, according to Daily Mail.
The first indication that something was wrong came in June 2013, when Lucy had a severe itch.
“She was in London training for her new job and called me to tell me about it,” Liam told Daily Mail. “She was not one to make a fuss, so I knew it must be bad.”
She went to see the doctor several times, but after receiving medication for scabies and an allergic reaction, there was no sign of improvement.
In August 2013, she went into hospital and was seen by numerous consultants as her condition deteriorated.
“The moment they told us she had cancer, she broke down,” Liam said.
By that stage, medical professionals could only offer Lucy chemotherapy.
The itchiness she has was caused by a growth blocking her bile ducts, resulting in bile being secreted under the skin and causing irritation.
Already engaged, Liam and Lucy moved their wedding date forward and were married in October 2014.
Lucy remained hopeful the treatment would be successful, but shortly before Christmas 2014 she was rushed to hospital.
Two months later, she underwent emergency surgery but never woke up from the anesthetic.
“I felt so helpless -- there was this woman who I wanted to spend the next 40, 50 or so years with, who was now gone, and there was nothing I could do to save her,” said Liam.
Bile duct cancer was a relatively rare disease, but rates have risen sharply in recent years.
“We know that exposure to certain chemicals produced as a byproduct of waste incineration may be associated with this cancer -- it has also been associated with industrial spillage,” Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson told the Daily Mail.
The first world cholangiocarcinoma day took place Feb. 17. Six charities from around the world united to organize it.
According to Imperial College London, the failure to diagnose the cancer quickly enough means that surgery is frequently not possible. Only 5 percent of those diagnosed with bile duct cancer are alive a year later.