Double shock for couple both diagnosed with cancer

Press release posted 15 August 2016

Partners Sue Fagan and Wolfgang Thurn had their lives turned upside down when they were both diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. 

Now they want to give something back to the hospital that is treating them both by taking part in The Christie charity Walk of Hope. 

The pair have been together for 12 years and Wolfgang, known as Wolf, aged 66, received the news that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the oesophagus in July 2015. Just three months later Sue, 58, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer after a routine mammogram. 

Wolf, from Dukinfield in Tameside, says: “It was such a shock when I was diagnosed, especially receiving the news that I had just six to 12 months to live, and, just as we were coming to terms with it, we found out Sue had cancer too. It was heart-breaking, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Telling my son, and then my daughter, who had just returned elated from a six-month, round-the-world back packing trip, was really hard. We decided to keep the terrible news from her initially, so that she could share her adventures with the family. 

It was heart-breaking for Sue too telling her two sons and her family.

Wolf continues: “I only have a small family here and my sister Monica has been a constant support throughout. It’s at times like this that you realise how blessed you are to have a good family and friends, and we are truly blessed.” 

Sue, from Ashton-under-Lyne, adds: “We’re keeping each other strong during treatment. We’ve got to keep each other’s chin up. It’s very rare that a couple would be diagnosed with cancer at the same time but it shows how common cancer is, how many people are diagnosed with cancer and why we need to help give something back to amazing places like The Christie, which are helping people with cancer.” 

Sue and Wolf have decided to take part in The Christie’s Walk of Hope on 17th September 2016. The 10km walk is through the grounds of Tatton Park in Knutsford, Cheshire.  It honours the courage of those battling cancer and those who have lost the fight. It's a chance to say thank you for the care and treatment received, to celebrate with survivors and to raise vital funds for The Christie. 

The event begins with the launch of the doves of peace and midway through the walk there is a moment for reflection, as loved ones have the opportunity to throw a pebble with the name of the person they are taking part in honour of into Tatton Mere. 

Sue says: “Along with our friends, family and work colleagues we will be walking The Christie’s Walk of Hope because this wonderful hospital has given us hope. Despite Wolf’s terminal diagnosis, he is still with us over a year later and his tumours have shrunk by 40%! 

“I have had surgery at the Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, followed by chemotherapy at The Christie. This will be followed by three weeks of radiotherapy next month. The doctors are confident they’ve removed all of my cancer, and I will have further therapy of Herceptin and Letrozole for a period of time. 

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s been made easier by the patience and expertise of all the staff at The Christie. We have been so impressed with how staff have had time for us and how they always managed to make us feel special. It is astounding they can do that, with the unfortunate amount of patients they have. 

“People were surprised when they viewed our fundraising page. We are such positive people they had no idea we had cancer, never mind that we are battling it at the same time and this is why it is so important to us to fundraise for The Christie. They have supported us through this terrible time and given us hope for the future. 

“We’ve just booked our dream holiday to Bali and Australia and we couldn’t have done it without the excellent care we received. We’re determined to enjoy as much of life as possible for as long as possible.” 

Sue and Wolf are hoping to raise £5,000 to help The Christie continue the lifesaving care and treatment offered to patients. Any donations are welcome at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sue-Fagan-fagan

Lucy Naylor, sporting events manager at The Christie charity says: “We were so moved when we heard Sue and Wolf’s story, and so grateful that they have decided to fundraise for The Christie during what must be such a difficult time. 

The Walk of Hope is always emotional while at the same time very uplifting and helps us raise vital funds for this important cause. If anyone else would like to join us at this special event please contact our charity on 0161 446 3400 or visit www.christies.org/walkofhope.

The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust through its fundraising activities, and delivers projects, equipment and improvements that are over and above what the NHS funds. The charity has more than 43,000 supporters who helped raise   £15.9m last year.  

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