Cancer patient with months to live is planning a 'death party'

Cancer patient with months to live is planning a 'death party'

Bowel cancer patient, 48, insists he’s the ‘happiest he’s ever been’ after quitting chemo to make the most of his final days – and is planning a ‘death party’ with loved ones dressed as the Grim Reaper

  • Russ Pegrum, 48, from Waltham Abbey, hosting a ‘death party’ this Saturday
  • He suffers from terminal bowel cancer and was given months to live by doctors 
  • Friends and family will dress as Grim Reapers and Russ will wear skulls t-shirt

A cancer patient with just months to live is planning his own grim reaper-themed ‘death party’ this weekend and say he’s the ‘happiest I’ve ever been.’

Russ Pegrum, 48, from Waltham Abbey, Hertfordshire, will have beer and pizza at his unusual ‘wake’ this Saturday, with family and old school friends due to dress up in grim reaper costumes.

The former factory worker, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018, quit chemotherapy in September to make the most of his final days.

Doctors say he has just months to live – and Russ, who has a 9cm tumour, doesn’t know if he’ll reach his next birthday in March.

Russ Pegrum, 48, from Waltham Abbey, Hertfordshire, who was diagnosed with Bowel cancer in 2018, was told in September that there was nothing doctors could do to help him. He decided to quite chemotherapy and to plan his own ‘wake,’ which will take place this Saturday 

But Russ said that he is ‘the happiest I’ve been’ after organising his own wake and even picking out a coffin for his funeral.

Russ said: ‘I’ve called it my “death party”.

‘It sounds a bit morbid but it’s making light of it and having a bit of fun.

‘I’m wearing a shirt with skulls on it. One friend has bought a grim reaper costume.

While he admitted some people might find his ‘death party’ morbid, Russ said it is just a way of making light of his fate 

After being diagnosed three years ago, Russ lost 27kg during his chemotherapy treatment. He was in remission in March but the cancer has since started spreading again 

‘I’ve got people coming from school days and people I haven’t seen for 30 odd years.’

Russ’ cancer went into remission in March but it returned three months later and he restarted chemotherapy.

By September, doctors told him there was nothing more to be done and Russ opted to quit his treatment, which had left him ‘staring at the walls at home’.

He lost 27kg during his chemo and now needs a wheelchair to travel long distances.

Russ lives with his parents, Brenda, left and Laurence, top right, pictured. The cancer patient wants his loved ones to dress as grim reapers for his wake 

Pictured: Russ playing pool. The 48-year-old now needs a wheelchair to cover long-distance journeys 

Pictured: Russ hat a Halloween party. He has said that planning his own funeral has given him ‘peace of mind’ 

Russ, who lives with mum Brenda and dad Laurence, said: ‘I decided to stop the chemo and within a month I felt 100 times better.

‘Since quitting chemo I’ve learnt to enjoy my life. These have been among the happiest months of my life.

‘Planning a funeral is a fairly unusual experience but it’s given me peace of mind.

‘I’ve picked out the coffin and music, and written my own eulogy. I found it quite enjoyable really.

‘When the time comes everything will be how I’d like it to be.’

THE SYMPTOMS OF BOWEL CANCER, WHICH DEVELOPS FROM POLYPS IN THE COLON AND RECTUM

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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