Family is hit by double cancer blow as mother and father are BOTH diagnosed with the disease


A family have been left devastated after both parents were diagnosed with stage four cancer inside just months after the birth of their fifth child.

Steve Thawley and his wife Sarah, who have five children between them, are both seriously unwell.

Sarah was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer eight weeks after giving birth to their son Arthur in March 2020.

Last June she was told that she only had a few weeks left to live but fought back and was eventually allowed to come home to her family.

Then in October Steve started to experience problems with swallowing his food and on December 11 the family were given the devastating news that Steve had stage four gastric cancer.

Now a fundraising page has been set up to help the couple, who live in Barnsley, South Yorkshire

A family of seven have been left devastated after parents Sarah and Steve Thawley, from Barnsley, were both diagnosed with stage four cancer within just nine months of each other

A family of seven have been left devastated after parents Sarah and Steve Thawley, from Barnsley, were both diagnosed with stage four cancer within just nine months of each other

Family friend Marina Whitwam said: ‘Steve has been my son’s football coach for the last five years at Hoyland Common Falcons.

‘That’s where I met Sarah too as she would come along to the games. 

‘When I found out what had happened I decided to organise a half-marathon to see if we can raise some money for them.

‘Even if they can have a holiday as a family or put the money to good use after the horrible year that they have had.

‘It’s a story that although you want to share it you don’t at the same time because it is so upsetting, you couldn’t write what has happened to them.

‘Anything we can do to help them will be amazing.’

As part of the appeal Steve and Sarah have provided their story so people can understand just what they have been through over the past year.

The family welcomed baby boy Arthur on March 20 – just three days before the lockdown began. 

Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer at Barnsley hospital in South Yorkshire (pictured)

Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer at Barnsley hospital in South Yorkshire (pictured)

Then on May 16 last year, Sarah was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at Barnsley hospital. Because of lockdown restrictions she had to be given this news alone in hospital.

Her immediate family formed a support bubble to provide support for Arthur and the rest of their children because of how ill Sarah had become.

The following month on June 8 Sarah went to Weston Park hospital for blood tests in preparation for her first chemotherapy treatment later that week. However, she was hospitalised that same day with hypercalcemia.

She received her first chemotherapy treatment while in hospital but was very poorly and on Thursday June 11 the hospital contacted Steve to come in as soon as possible.

Sarah had been moved to a private room and it was there that we were told that she had only weeks left to live.

Everyone was devastated but were determined to bring Sarah home and on Saturday June 13 she came home where her family had organised the living room with a bed so she could be looked after there.

The next day after loads of planning and rushing around Sarah and Steve had a blessing in their back garden and on Wednesday June 17 the local vicar came to their house and made the wedding official after being granted special permission for the marriage to take place at home.

In a family statement, they said: ‘Three weeks later, Sarah was still fighting and despite the awful prognosis by the hospital she appeared to be improving. 

Although Sarah finished her treatment in October and was improving, by December Steve had also been diagnosed with the disease after doctors found he had stage four gastric cancer

Although Sarah finished her treatment in October and was improving, by December Steve had also been diagnosed with the disease after doctors found he had stage four gastric cancer

‘Sarah finished her treatment in October and her CT scan showed remarkable response to treatment.’

Over the next few weeks that followed, the family tried to get back to as much normality as possible with the restrictions in place, with Sarah going into hospital every three weeks for immunotherapy.

However it was around this time that Steve began experiencing problems swallowing food.

The family say it was initially put down to anxiety at first but that it kept getting worse and after a visit to the GP, Steve was fast tracked for an endoscopy.

Again, because of Covid restrictions Steve had to go in for the procedure on his own.

After the endoscopy, doctors told Steve he had gastric cancer.

The family continued: ‘It was unbelievable. After everything that had happened already this year it seemed like impossible news. But on December 11 it was confirmed to be stage 4 gastric cancer.

‘The family all rallied around again – Steve had to go into hospital a few days before Christmas in order to have a stent fitted so that he could eat properly.

‘Thankfully he was home in time for Christmas but he was very poorly and couldn’t enjoy it properly.

‘After the new year Steve began his treatment with his first chemotherapy session. He has to have six sessions with the last one being at the end of April 2021.’

A sponsored half-marathon has been arranged for July 11 starting at Elsecar Park subject to Covid rules at the time.

Marina said: ‘We originally thought it would just be a few of us taking part.

‘But since the fundraising page went live I have had so many people getting in touch asking how they can take part.

‘So we need to wait and see what happens as it all depends on coronavirus rules at the time.’

To donate to the fundraiser, visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-the-thawleys-create-some-smiles 

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