'Much harder this time around' - Father of three fighting cancer for second time in two years
- Credit: Rebecca Head Chapman-Cox
A Welwyn Garden City father is currently battling cancer for the second time and his close friend has set up a GoFundMe to help support the family while he can't work.
Anthony Chapman-Cox, 31, or Ant as he's known to his friends, was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in June 2019, while his wife Rebecca was three months pregnant with their third child.
He found a lump which he initially thought was a cyst, but after going to the doctors the next day he soon found out it was cancer, and within a month he had begun chemotherapy.
By October 2019, Anthony was thankfully in remission and life continued as normal - with their daughter Amelie being born in November.
Looking back, Rebecca described the period as 'great'.
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Ant went back to work as a HGV driver for Veolia in December 2019, but then when lockdown arrived in March he had to shield.
Rebecca told the WHT: "He was well, it was nice to spend time with him as a family when he was well, going for walks and stuff.
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"He was coming home from a 10 hour shift, walking the dogs for an hour then playing on the trampoline or football with the boys.
"Then bang, you find out he's got stage 4 cancer."
At a six month check-up this year - an appointment Ant's doctor initially told him he didn't really need to go for but because it was booked he "might as well" - they found the cancer had returned and spread.
"He went along to the scan not thinking anything of it," said Rebecca, but within a week they were told cancer had been found on his lungs.
He was told he had cancer on both his lungs and a large nodule on his chest wall and that chemotherapy would be needed to start urgently.
"The first time he had cancer he kinda just walked through it, I thought maybe it would be the same this time," said Rebecca.
But this time the chemotherapy is taking its toll. The process involves five days of chemo, 11 hours a day, then 16 days at home before going back to the hospital again.
Rebecca said: "The first week he came home last time it was just like living with the walking dead, he was a shadow of himself. He couldn't do anything.
"He'd walk from the living room to the fridge and that would be it, he wouldn't be able to do much more."
He has just began his second cycle of chemotherapy , at the end of which he will have a scan which should give them an idea of how the treatment is progressing.
In July he will go to Hammersmith Hospital for a stem cell treatment.
"If they can't cure the cancer with chemo then the outlook doesn't look good," Rebecca added.
This time around has also been more difficult for Rebecca, who cares for her mother and works as a special needs teaching assistant for an hour a day, as she isn't allowed to visit him at all due to COVID-19 rules.
Their eldest son Kai, seven, is back at school and four-year-old Ethan goes to nursery with Amelie.
"It's stressful, because the boys know that Daddy's ill but they don't know what's wrong. They know that Daddy's got bad cells that needs to be blasted away by superhero medicine.
"Life is tough because we're used to doing it all as a family, like putting the children to bed in the evening. All of a sudden I have to do it by myself, so it's like going to being a single mum."
Rebecca said they have been 'completely overwhelmed' by the GoFundMe set up by long time friend Warren Howard.
The fundraiser aims to help the family financially, as from this weekend Ant will be only receiving statutory sick pay as opposed to his normal wage.
Warren said on the fundraiser: "Anthony is honestly the most harmless, selfless and kind person I know. He has always been there for me, for others & never expects anything in return.
"He just made it through the first cancer battle financially by using savings he had and help from close friends and family. This time, it’s going to be a bit harder and I’m going to do more to get him through this financially & not have to worry about money."