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Derbyshire dad shed six stone after losing both mum and sister to cancer

A Derbyshire dad has explained how he turned his life around following the death of both his mother and younger sister from cancer.

Stuart Gascoyne, 58, lost his mother Marion, 71, to lung cancer, and younger sister Michele, 51, to breast cancer, within a few years of each other.

Stuart, from Ashbourne, explained how seeing the cancer take its effect was hard for him and his family to accept.

He said: “It was very hard losing both of them so close together. My mum passed away from lung cancer in 2015, then three years later my sister succumbed to secondary breast cancer.

“Coming from a large extended family I have had a lot of relatives affected by cancer over the years.

“Obviously it’s very difficult when somebody who’s younger than you dies before you.

“Putting it into the right words is difficult but I suppose although me and my younger sister weren’t overly close, she was still my little sister.

“You always assume that being the oldest boy you were going to go first, it’s very odd. It’s a devastating thing cancer, as if any illness that results in you dying, it’s also horrible to see people you know go through that as well.

“My mother was diagnosed very late, so she didn’t suffer for very long. My sister suffered for years really, and it was awful seeing her at the end.”

After his younger sister passed away, Stuart, a father to Rebecca, 25, and Laura, 23, turned his life around and began to take better care of his body.

Within three years he had lost six stone in weight and began regularly exercising and eating healthier foods.

Stuart's mother Marion and sister Michele both passed away after suffering with cancer.
Stuart’s sister Michele and mother Marion both passed away after suffering with cancer.

Stuart, who works for a wedding decoration company, added: “I suddenly had a lightbulb moment and thought I need to make a lifestyle change or I’m not going to be around very long.

“After my sister passed, I don’t know whether it was a self conscious thing, but she passed away and me and my wife Lisa, we both went on a bit of a health kick and it went from there really.

“Whether subconsciously it was to do with my sister passing away or if it was one of those things, I got the feeling that at my age, I would have been 55 when I started losing weight, I wanted to be around for a few more years than I would have been had I not done anything.”

When Stuart’s friend Jennifer Chambers was also diagnosed with cancer, this time stage four bowel cancer, he decided to do what he could to help.

Stuart photographed before he turned his life around and lost around six stone in weight.
Stuart photographed before he turned his life around and lost around six stone in weight.

Jennifer had received a lot of support from cancer charity Macmillan, so helping it was the obvious choice.

Now he is aiming to run, cycle and walk 100km every month during 2022 to support people affected by cancer.

“The support Macmillan have given Jen has been phenomenal, so I thought I’d set myself a challenge to support Macmillan and do my bit for people affected by cancer.

“It’s just another way to motivate me to get the exercise I suppose and hope to raise some money for a worthwhile cause as well.”

Stuart plans to cover 100km every month through a combination of running, cycling and walking around the Derbyshire Dales.

He’ll also take part in some organised runs across the area, with step-daughter Ava May, 12, to reach his mileage each month and raise awareness for Macmillan.

You can donate to Stuart’s fundraising appeal here.

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