Husband diagnosed with cancer two days after wife’s all clear

After five years of battling cancer, Alice Willis was overjoyed to be given the all clear.

But her happiness was cut short when, just two days later, her husband Kevin was diagnosed with the same cancer.

Mr Willis said today he was confident about the prognosis for his stomach cancer, because he is in the hands of the same 'brilliant' team at the Norfolk and Norfolk University Hospital that treated his wife.

The 61-year-old, from Jex Avenue, in west Norwich, said: 'It has been a hard five years.

'It hit Alice hard and then they told me and it hit me even harder. Even the doctors were dumbfounded and said they couldn't believe how it had gone and joked that they were never going to rid of us two.

'Alice is my inspiration – her and our grandchildren.

'If Alice can get through it, then I can get through it.

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'I'm with the same team of doctors and I have got every confidence in them. They are marvellous.'

Mrs Willis, a retired dinner lady, who has been married for 22 years and has four children, said: 'On the Thursday I was told I didn't have cancer any more. On the Friday morning I woke up at 5am and got out of my bed and went 'Yes, no more cancer'.

'Then I sat crying and thought, 'you selfish cow', as Kevin was in the hospital.

'Then we were told on the Saturday that he had cancer.'

Mrs Willis, who celebrated her 62nd birthday on Friday, said she had found battling cancer very hard, particularly as she had cared for her mother, Dorothy Pritchard, who died from the disease in 2003.

At first doctors thought she had an ulcer, but when she continued to have problems eating and swallowing, and an endoscopy revealed a cancerous tumour in her oesophagus, at the junction with her stomach.

Chemotherapy managed to successfully treat the cancer in her gullet, but she had to have an operation to remove her stomach.

The grandmother-of-12 also had a hysterectomy two years ago and a prolapsed bladder, which she said made her lose all her confidence.

But she said that after all the love and support she had had from her husband over the past five years, she would be doing everything she could to help him now.

She said: 'I might need a bit of help, but we have got an amazing family, some good friends and some good neighbours.'

Mr Willis, who was made redundant seven years ago, said it was only because of his experiences with his wife's cancer, that he was prompted to get himself checked out after noticing blood in his stools. He said otherwise he may not have found out so early that he had cancer.

It turned out he had an ulcer which had bled, but doctors also discovered the more serious disease.

He said: 'It's something I would have ignored. I would urge anybody in a similar situation to go straight to the doctor.

'At the moment we don't think mine will be so intense as Alice's was.

'I'm not ill with it like Alice was with hers. I know it's there and I know it's very frightening, but at the same time I know I'm in good hands and I'm going to get over it because I'm a Larkman boy.'

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email