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“There was a lot of joy, and a lot of living got done” - Hilary's story


Hilary Morgan kindly shared the story of her husband, Tim, to support our bowel cancer fundraising appeal. Tim was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer at the age of 43. Here, Hilary tells us more about how pioneering treatments gave him a chance to live.

Posted on 11 June, 2021 by Hilary Morgan


Someone once told me that there’s a warp and a weave to life, and when something like a cancer diagnosis comes in, everything just alters course. You don’t know what you would have been without it, but sometimes it can bring amazing things to life.

When my husband, Tim, was diagnosed with bowel cancer, we had no idea what the future was going to look like for him.

At that time, our daughter, Molly, was 10, and our son, William, was just six. One of the things that made Tim saddest was, of course, the fact he was leaving our children, and he said he just couldn't bear the thought that William wouldn't really remember him as he got older.

'He had time to make memories'

But the research that’s been done is so amazing that Tim had opportunities, and he had time to make memories.

After his diagnosis in April 2015, Tim got started on the traditional treatment pretty quickly. He was sent straight in for surgery, and then began chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, the chemotherapy only worked for a little while, so he had to have quite a tough further operation called HIPEC, but even this wasn’t enough to completely free him of his cancer.

At this point, there weren’t any more traditional treatment options available to Tim, so he and his oncologist looked at various experimental treatments, including a triple gene therapy.

Tim Morgan with his two children at the Dartmoor Demon cycling fundraiser

Tim started the gene therapy in January 2016, and the next nine months were amazing. For a while, Tim’s cancer became almost non-existent, and he was so fit and well that he decided to do the Dartmoor Demon in May 2016 to fundraise for the ICR.

He trained everyday so he could cycle up all those crazy hills in Devon, and he was even fitter than he’d been before he was diagnosed.

But then the treatment stopped working.

Tim was then fortunate enough to be accepted onto a trial in Barcelona for immunotherapy. This drug kept him alive and well for about 14 months, but then his cancer developed resistance again, and Tim had to leave the trial.

Image: Tim with Molly and William at the Dartmoor Demon fundraiser. Credit: Hilary Morgan

'There weren’t really any options left'

That was an incredibly tough time.

There weren’t really any options left, but Tim and his oncologist decided he would give the chemotherapy one more go.

It was a brutal thing for Tim to put himself through, three years after he thought he’d finished chemotherapy, and eventually it got to the point where there was no more that could be done, and it became a case of managing at home.

Tim found that really hard. He was such a fighter. One of the things he said throughout the whole experience was that he wished he’d been diagnosed even 10 years later, because the scientific changes, and the rate at which they take place, are so phenomenal.

The Morgan family sat in a car at a wedding

Image: The Morgan family at a wedding in 2016. Credit: Hilary Morgan

'We have so many wonderful memories'

I’m so thankful for everything that Tim’s years on treatment brought our family, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to continue supporting the ICR after Tim’s death, because, in 10 years’ time, I want there to be even more options available to people like him.

One thing that really sticks with me about the whole experience is that our house was always a place of laughter. There were countless times where the three of them would just be sat around the kitchen table, and Tim would have the kids in hysterics as he told them one of his stories.

Molly, William and I have so much to look back on. Between us, we have countless wonderful memories, of keepie uppies in the garden, trips to Barcelona and beyond, epic family cycle rides with Tim urging us on, Tim performing gigs with his band…

Hilary and Tim renewing their marriage vows

Image: Hilary and Tim Morgan renewing their vows at Tim's birthday party in 2016. Credit: Hilary Morgan

And there’s one more memory that will always stay with me, which was when we threw a party for his birthday in 2016.

It was slightly random. Two weeks before Tim’s birthday, we suddenly decided we wanted to throw a ridiculous, massive party. We got a marquee, and there were almost 150 people there.

And Tim surprised me at the party, and we renewed our marriage vows right there and then. It was just really lovely.

Tim’s treatments bought him nearly five years of life and, in those five years, a lot of living got done. He would be so proud that his fundraising, and his story, may be giving other families the same opportunities to make memories.

Help us finish cancer

As well as being a world-leading cancer research institute, we are a charity. Your support today will help us deliver urgently-needed smarter treatments for bowel cancer, and give patients like Tim a chance to finish what they started.

Please donate today to help us finish cancer. Let’s finish cancer together.

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immunotherapy bowel cancer
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