On his first Valentine’s Day as a married man James Willis received the news all families dread - he had Stage 4 cancer.
The 29-year-old had only tied the knot less than four months earlier after eloping with wife Emma, but a pain in his shoulder which he put down to exercise turned out to be soft tissue sarcoma (muscle) cancer which has spread to his lungs and become “incurable.”
Now, the quantity surveyor from Baston, who works in Peterborough, is looking to raise thousands of pounds for the two hospitals involved in his treatment - Addenbrooke’s and the Royal Orthopaedic.
And James also wants to spread the message of making sure people look after themselves properly. He said: “If you have had a niggly sort of injury you think tendonitis or a pulled muscle.
“But if you have a lump or persistent pain you definitely need to get it checked out.
“I would go to the gym four or five times a week, but I would eat a lot of processed meats and would have sweetened coffee, sweetened tea, Red Bull and Diet Coke. You need to look after yourself.”
James has become incredibly positive since his diagnosis after waving goodbye to life’s other stresses, and despite chemotherapy he believes he can enjoy a good life even though he is not sure what his long-term prognosis is.
“I was told my cancer is incurable but the way I eat can have a massive effect on my lifespan,” he added. “I hear stories all the time of people with Stage 4 cancer going into remission. Life goes on. People with cancer are not different to people that don’t have it.
“My attitude now is I’m here today and just want to enjoy my life.” Wife Emma (26) is a teacher at Barnack Primary which has fundraised for James to do a skydive. On the cancer diagnosis, she said: “It was just a shock initially. You kind of feel like your world’s been turned upside down. But I’m a naturally positive person so was like ‘bring it on’.”
A JustGiving page James set up to raise money for Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital received £10,000 worth of donations inside a week.
James said: “The support is amazing - it’s a real morale booster. People have been so generous.”
And last Thursday at 5pm, James and friends had their hair shaved off at The Cutting Company in Ironmonger Street in Stamford, which is run by Emma’s stepdad John Goldsmith.
To donate to the hospitals, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/james-thesarcomaslayer-willis.