Lisa’s story

Lisa’s father died from oesophageal cancer in 2021. Having already been aware of Big C, Lisa sought our support and started a course of bereavement counselling. Lisa tells her story…

My Dad was an incredible man, truly one of a kind. His personality and laugh would fill a room. He had always lived an active lifestyle and always lived life to the full. We used to do a lot together; we shared a love for scuba diving and travel and we also did ju-jitsu together. He was, is, my best friend.

He started suffering with acid reflux in December 2019 during a fitness challenge we were doing, actually on behalf of Big C and it progressively got worse. He’d been to the doctors but knew something wasn’t ‘right’ when he couldn’t swallow a mince pie at Christmas (they were his favourite!).

After Christmas he had an endoscopy and unfortunately was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer of the oesophagus. At the time he was living in Ickburgh in Norfolk and underwent treatment at West Suffolk Hospital and Addenbrookes, which continued after moving close to Great Ellingham in September 2020. His treatment included chemotherapy and a major operation, all of which happened through lockdown 1.0 so he did a lot of this on his own. I also wasn’t able to spend time with my parents and my mum couldn’t go to the hospital with him. 

The operation was very invasive but he was home after a two weeks to continue with his recovery. He had a feeding tube and was only allowed small meals which had to be soft/liquid to start, then we could slowly introduce solids. The consultants were really happy with his recovery and amazed with how well he was doing. The chemotherapy that he received also damaged his heart which meant he had to be careful when doing a form of exercise. He was recruited onto a clinical trial at Addenbrookes with his last round of chemotherapy in November 2020 and we were optimistic when in April 2021, he was told there was no evidence of cancer in his three monthly scan.

Like many, 2020 was going to be a big year for me. I was turning 30 but due to restrictions I postponed my birthday celebrations to July 2021. It was my parents 35th wedding anniversary at the end of August and he planned a trip to London. Around that time my Dad weighed himself and mentioned he had lost weight, but didn’t seem too concerned as he was due another check up the following week. To be honest I think we were all in denial as looking back on photos he didn’t look very well.

Lisa and Vearnon in 2015 when they completed their scuba diving Instructor Development Course in Utila, Honduras.

The last event of the summer was my cousin’s wedding on September 8th. My dad was experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort but was dancing more than ever! We had such a wonderful time together as a family, but it was also the first time he expressed he was worried. The following Saturday he went into hospital because the pain was debilitating. Soon after we were told the cancer had returned. After 3 weeks, he was sent home with a virtual hospital ward but ended up back in the hospital 36 hours later. This is when we learnt the devastating news that the cancer was terminal.

My Dad sadly died on 15th October 2021. In a cruel twist of fate, only the year previously my Dad’s best friend of 30+ years had died of the same disease.

I don’t have any brothers or sisters and my parents and I used to call ourselves the three musketeers. My Dad’s passing was / is incredibly tough, trying to support my mum and cope with my own terrible grief. I didn’t know anyone else my age who had been through something similar so felt very alone. 

Lisa, a Big C service user with her mum and dad

Having already been aware of Big C, in December 2021 I sought their support and started a course of bereavement counselling. I am not one to share my feelings easily and at first I was unsure how I would benefit, as nothing was going to bring my Dad back, but it really helped me view things in a different way.

“Big C gave me a safe space to speak openly about how I was feeling, my fears, worries, frustrations and how to support my mum.”


In May 2022, aged 31, I took part in the Norwich 100 cycle event for Big C, along with my partner Alex, in memory of my Dad. It seemed fitting as during lockdown 2.0 and 3.0 we used to enjoy leisurely cycle rides and talk about life, future plans and other random things. It was an incredible day as we headed out to the North Norfolk coast to remember him. He loved the sea and the beach so it was a fitting tribute. We were so grateful for all the support we received with our fundraising and managed to raise an incredible £2,735 for Big C.


We can help you work through the maze of cancer information.

Get involved

Become a volunteer, fundraise or donate. Your support is needed more than ever before.

Find support

At our centres across the region, we offer support to anyone affected by cancer.

Let’s keep in touch

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive news and updates from Big C.