A magical fundraiser for kind-hearted Peter
As the doctors broke the devastating news to Peter Marsden-Lloyd that he had cancer, the first thing he did was apologise to his husband, mum and sister for the anguish they would have to go through.
With a voice filled with emotion, his husband Steven Marsden-Lloyd, 45, who lives in Walton-le-Dale, Preston, says: “That just sums Peter up completely. He was a remarkable man who always put others first.
“Even in horrible circumstances, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he still put others first and was worried about me and his mum more than himself.”
Peter, who was a senior regional facilities manager at Slater Gordon Solutions in Blackpool, says Peter had faced some adversities in life but had overcome them.
He explains: “Peter had dyslexia as a child but he overcame that later in life.
“He had also struggled with his weight and was 22 stone at one point, but he was determined to improve his lifestyle and had lost six stone.”
Steven and Peter had been together for five years and married in July 2014. Just a few months later, Peter suffered a TIA - a mini stroke - but he recovered well and overcame it.
Steven recalls: “Peter was absolutely fine after that and in April 2015, he took part in the Ribble Valley triathlon which was a huge achievement for him.
“He did it to raise money for a dyslexia charity.
“Before he became ill, he was about to enrol to do a Masters in facilities management at the University of Central Lancashire.
“But sadly, that never happened.”
Peter, 41, began experiencing his turmoil in February this year after he had been carrying some heavy boxes and felt like he may have pulled a muscle.
The following day, he experienced bad back pain which didn’t improve. He went for sports massages and to see a chiropractor, but nothing seemed to help.
He then went to see a doctor and had a scan and an X-ray but he was told they showed nothing abnormal.
Steven recalls: “Peter’s back pain then moved to his neck and he had a severely stiff neck.
“At the same time, a huge lump appeared on his forearm. It was the size of a golf ball and he had an ultrasound on it, but was told there was nothing to worry about.
“The doctor prescribed anti-inflammatories but Peter was in so much pain, he could not lie flat in bed and he had to spend all his time sat in a chair.”
In May this year, Peter went to make Steven a cup of tea, but he suddenly found he could not hold the kettle as he felt pins and needles shooting through his arms.
Steven says: “We called 111 and they sent an ambulance and Peter was taken to hospital to get checked out.
“He had an MRI scan which identified tumours on the back of his neck which were pushing on to his spine and causing the pins and needles. A further two tumours were found on his lower back.
“The consultant told us there was a chance it was cancer because of the amount of tumours.”
Peter had a 10-hour operation to take away as many of the tumours as possible to alleviate the pressure on his back.
By that evening, he had lost all the feeling in his hands and was in critical care for a few days before being moved to the neuro-ward.
Test results from the tumours revealed Peter had Stage 3 renal cancer which was a primary cancer that had started in his kidney before spreading through his body.
Steven says: “Peter showed such strength of character and he did not care about himself but more about the repercussions on others.
“It was a horrendous time and Peter was having to cope with the sheer nightmare of being told he was going to die of terminal cancer.
“At first he was given a prognosis of five years, then he was told three to four and then we were told one to two.
“As it was, Peter ended up dying just 72 days after diagnosis in August.
“He never regained use of his hands and could not even pour himself a drink - which was hard for him as he was a massive tea fiend.
“Peter showed so much strength, courage and dignity and kept a smile on his face throughout it all.”
Peter was moved to St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall and Steven says the care he received there was phenomenal and he can never thank the hospice enough for everything they did for Peter and his loved ones in his final days.
Steven explains: “Straight away, they got his medication spot on and the way they looked after him was amazing.
“The staff at St Catherine’s are brilliant, not just with their care but the love they show their patients.
“They were incredible with all of us and I promised Peter I would do all I could to support and fundraise for the hospice.”
Peter was a huge Harry Potter fan and loved the books and films and had been to the Harry Potter Studios a couple of years ago.
Smiling, Steven says: “Peter loved Harry Potter - I was the Star Wars geek and he was the Harry Potter one.
“When we went to the Harry Potter Studios, Peter was like a kid in a sweet shop.
“We went to London last year and all Peter wanted to do was go to the Millennium Bridge because it was featured in one of the Harry Potter films.
“Peter loved the Harry Potter films and would watch them all the time.”
Steven was touched when Peter’s workmates held a Harry Potter themed fundraising day at their office at Slater Gordon Solutions in Blackpool to raise valuable funds for St Catherine’s Hospice.
Staff dressed as their favourite Hogwarts personalities and threw some Star Wars characters into the mix, while others chose to wear blue in recognition of Peter’s favourite colour.
Steven says: “Everyone always says how much Peter would help others and put everyone else’s needs before his own.
“He had only been at Slater Gordon for a year so for his colleagues to do this for him was just testament to his character and how much they thought of him.
“So many people are coming forward because of the love they had for Peter. They just want to do something to help and pay tribute to him.
“Peter’s work friends at Slater Gordon Solutions contacted me when he was staying at the hospice.
“They saw how well he was cared for and wanted to contribute something, so they came up with the ‘Star Wars vs Harry Potter’ Day.
“They raised an incredible amount of money - £2,150 which was then matched by the company to a grand total of £4,300.
“When I visited Peter’s workplace to collect the cheque for the charity, I was just blown away by the kindness and generosity.
“It just goes to show how much people thought of him.
“A former work colleague of Peter’s also organised a coffee morning at her current workplace, Progress Housing Group in Leyland, and raised an incredible £2,200.
“My brother Mark and his new wife Francisca also made a donation from their wedding day recently.
“As part of the guests’ wedding favours, they made a donation to St Catherine’s or some of the charity’s little silver butterfly pin badges. I thought that was a lovely touch.
“With contributions from Peter’s funeral, as well as money I managed to raise from taking part in the St Catherine’s Bark in the Park sponsored walk in October, Peter’s family and friends have raised almost £10,000 in his memory which is fantastic.”
Steven has signed up to do voluntary work with St Catherine’s Hospice as well as registering to take part in the charity’s Wiggle Counties Challenge bike ride on May 14.
Steven explains: “There are no words to describe the level of care Peter received at St Catherine’s.
“It was more than incredible, it was more than phenomenal.
“I donated £1,000 for a new ice machine to continue Peter’s legacy of helping others. The ice machine provided invaluable relief with Peter’s care, because ice water can go a long way for someone on medication.
“I wanted to get a new one so that it would help others and also as a thank you to St Catherine’s for taking such great care of my husband in his final days.
“I will continue to fundraise for St Catherine’s but I can never repay them.
“I can’t do enough to give back for what St Catherine’s did for us, but I’m so thankful to everyone at the hospice and to everyone who has contributed to the fundraising.
“It would make Peter very proud.”
Lynne Whittaker, senior fundraiser at St Catherine’s Hospice, says: “What a remarkable effort from Peter’s family and friends and what a fitting tribute to him that so many people have done such a variety of things to show their support for St Catherine’s.
“It costs £5m to run the hospice every single year and we have to raise £3.7m of that from charitable efforts so we’re very grateful to Steven and the rest of Peter’s family and friends for their support.
“The money they have raised will help us continue to be there for people when it matters most, to provide specialist palliative and end-of-life care to local people and to offer their loved ones emotional support and opportunities for remembrance.”
• For more information about St Catherine’s Hospice, visit: www.stcatherines.co.uk