Jeff’s Story

‘He was our hero” – Rhian Williams shares the story of her father, Jeff’s, fight with Prostate Cancer. The family are encouraging men in Wales to #getchecked and raise awareness of the disease. You can support them by donating in memory of Jeff here.

In February 2017, Jeff Thomas was sadly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. By the time of diagnosis, the cancer had spread to his bones with tumours across his body and unfortunately a lifesaving treatment was not available. This news turned Jeff and his family’s world upside down. However, Jeff did not allow the disease to defeat his love of life. Proud to be from the Rhymney Valleys and rugby and golf mad, Jeff took time to understand his disease and inform others. Jeff kept seeing friends and family and enjoying the outdoors until he sadly passed away this year.

Jeff’s daughter, Rhian Williams, says that “He remained positive throughout and had his fighting spirit with him until the end.” Rhian also says that Jeff was “our hero”. Jeff was a hero for many others as in the years after his diagnosis; he took part in fundraisers for numerous charities and organisations he had had contact with during his prostate cancer journey. He was passionate about spreading the message for others after a late diagnosis. Another way in which Jeff helped the fight against prostate cancer was in taking part in trials across the country. His positive mental attitude carried him through chemotherapy and various medical trials.

A diagnosis of cancer can be scary for you and your family. Despite his family describing Jeff as initially being ”petrified of dying” and the diagnosis causing low mood, his support network encouraged him to bounce back and make the most of the time he had. With the help of his daughter, Rhian, and partner, Jacqui, he managed a healthy diet, stopped drinking alcohol, and looked at alternative therapies. He fought the disease all the way. When Jeff was ill, he looked up to Pen y Fan and said he had always wanted to get up there. Rather than letting this wish go unfulfilled, Jeff’s family and friends organised to get Jeff to the top of Pen y Fan. With much hard work preparing a route and a motorised chair, they made it. At the top of the mountain, Jeff and his loved ones sang Green Green Grass of Home in true Welsh spirit and celebrated their achievement. There were many moments like this for Jeff and his family and friends. A diagnosis does not have to be debilitating or isolating and Jeff’s family and friends will always remember these fantastic memories.

Rhian says if she could give any advice to men and their families in Wales, it would be that if something changes – check it. Jeff had general health checks in his role with the police. 10 years before his diagnosis his PSA had shown as 4 (average for his age group). But by the time he tested again, 10 years later, it was over 1500. Jeff was told by doctors that most likely he had had the disease for a long time. So, Rhian says she hopes that men will notice any changes including needing to go to the toilet more often, especially at night and seeking PSA tests from their GP’s routinely.

Jeff’s family are doing many things now to ensure his memory goes on.  Firstly, they have set up a JustGiving page in his memory. All funds raised on the page will be supporting research and treatments of prostate cancer in Wales. Having tripled the goal for fundraising at over £1500, Prostate Cymru is hugely grateful to Jeff, Rhian, Gavin, Jacqui and all of the friends and family that have continued to support the charity. Once the lockdown is over, the family hope to have a large celebration of his life, enabling everyone that knew Jeff to get together and remember the happy memories they had together. And finally, they have committed to supporting the charities that helped Jeff, and others like him, to fight prostate cancer and spread awareness.

You can still seek support from your GP if you have any serious concerns during the lockdown. Alternatively, you can call our Specialist Nurse on: 08000 470 200 to talk about any concerns or anxieties. The phoneline is also available to friends and family members who need support or want to raise any concerns about a loved one.

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