A NEWLYWED father-of-one is bravely sharing the life lessons he wished he knew before receiving his devastating terminal bowel cancer diagnosis. 

Ryan Silk, 38, is currently undergoing treatment during a 12-day stay at an in-patient palliative care unit at Southend Hospital, Essex. 

He’s been fighting his biggest health battle for the last three years after being dealt the “heartbreaking” news he had stage 3 Colorectal Cancer in 2018. 

Despite moments of hope and reassurance from doctors he would beat it, in July 2021 – just four days after he and wife Danielle’s wedding day – the couple and Mr Silk’s 12-year-old son Callum were told the cancer had aggressively spread throughout his body and his disease was incurable.  

Mr Silk was placed under palliative care for pain management immediately and offered palliative chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease to buy as much time as possible. 

But his health has gone from bad to worse over recent months. A tumour causing a serious bowel obstruction in August disrupted what should have been his honeymoon in Bali – instead he was forced into hospital to undergo 10 sessions of radiotherapy and 3 more sessions of chemotherapy. 

Now during his current hospital admission, his oncologist has indicated the current chemotherapy isn't working and the tumours have not only grown but multiplied. 

His only option is to either withdraw from treatment altogether or to try an alternative chemotherapy with a 10 per cent chance of success – a risk he said he must take because “some hope is better than no hope”.

To add to his family’s stress, he said their future has been placed in a “perilous” situation not only because of the bleak health prognosis but an uncertain financial future.

He said due to the negligence on the part of his broker, insurance expected to be in place to cover their mortgage in the event of his death will not be paid out.   

As he reflects on his cancer journey from his hospital bed, Mr Silk tells The Sun there are three key pieces of advice that had he known earlier, some of the pain he faces now may be eased. 

Get it checked out

Mr Silk said he had been experiencing stomach issues for years but had always dismissed irregularities as his own version of “normal”. 

He now knows better, and urges everyone – especially men – not to shy away fromseeking professional opinions.

He told The Sun: “Don’t put off speaking to a doctor or medical tests out of fear or embarrassment.”

“As men especially, we need to normalise speaking about our health. While speaking to a doctor about sensitive topics such as your bowel movements or having procedures such as a colonoscopy may seem mortifying, we have to remember that to doctors these are normal bodily functions and procedures that they carry out every day.

“Ultimately, short term discomfort is nothing compared to the pain and heartbreak of terminal cancer."

In 2018, Mr Silk was "ironically" participating in a charity boxing event to raise money for cancer research when he realised his bowel problems were intensified and decided to seek help from his GP. 

After months of testing with multiple doctors and being repeatedly told he was “too young for cancer” he eventually underwent a colonoscopy which revealed the disease. 

He's since endured aggressive surgeries remove tumours, rigorous bouts of chemotherapy and moments of optimism, until in April this year when further scans revealed another tumour had grown in the left adrenal gland and his situation quickly deteriorated. 

Live in the moment

“While it is wise to save for your future, it is important to make the most of every day with your loved ones.” 

Mr Silk said he and his wife put off trying for a family and the big holidays because they always thought they had time. 

He said: “Even after my diagnosis, my wife and I went back to working long hours for employers that would ultimately make us redundant during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“If something happens to you, your employer will be quick to replace you whereas your family will be the ones who are left with only memories. So make sure they are good ones.”

Clarify exactly what you are covered for

At an already difficult time, Mr Silk said that discovering the mortgage protection he believed to be in place in the event of his death was in fact not, has been devastating. 

He said he felt physically sick and at a time when we should be focusing on his health and making the most of whatever precious time they have left.

“I am heartbroken at leaving my wife in a situation where she may lose her husband and potentially our home,” he said. 

He urges people to put the time aside to check over insurance policies.

Mr Silk said: “Clarify exactly what you are covered for and ensure that you thoroughly check your policy documents. We all hope we will never need to make a claim, but an oversight could have horrific consequences should the worst happen.”

As he looks to leave hospital in the coming days, Mr Silk is now focused on spending the precious time he has left making memories with Danielle and son Callum, but hopes others can learn from the experience he has faced. 

Mr Silk said he's already witnessed a miracle after a donation page has garnered an “unexpected” response, leaving him overwhelmed.

“We have taken great comfort, not only from our dear friends, but also from the kindness of complete strangers who have been touched by my journey with this dreadful disease," he said.

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