‘I didn’t know he was dying’ - girlfriend of man who died of cancer aged 22 urges others to push for answers
PUBLISHED: 09:26 19 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:41 20 October 2019
The girlfriend of a young man who died of testicular cancer aged just 22 has urged others to look out for symptoms - and to push for answers.
At the end of August, Nathan Codling died less than two years after he was diagnosed with the illness.
A popular young man, his death prompted an outpouring of support from friends, family and the community, with a fundraising page collecting more than £5,000 for his funeral.
His girlfriend of five years Georgia Hadcroft, who he lived with in Horsford with their dog Flo, has today paid tribute to her partner, and told his story to embolden others to ask for help.
"He was the most selfless person you could ever meet, he would make you smile just by looking at him, he would do anything for anyone," she said. "Throughout his whole cancer he always said there's always someone worse off than me. He even laughed during his last hour.
"He loved life so much. He was a carpenter and he loved his job. He was my right arm."
It was in the summer of 2017 that keen computer gamer Nathan first discovered a small lump. Over the next six months he was told my doctors on two occasions that it was probably a cyst, despite it increasing in size and a second lump developing.
At its worst, Miss Hadcroft said it grew to the size of a tennis ball.
He was later given a scan, but it wasn't until December that he was diagnosed, and began a course of chemotherapy in London.
One year later, a scan revealed small traces of cancer remained, and he was given chemotherapy tablets to finish his course. Doctors said he would be given another scan in three months.
During that period, the pair went on holiday to Australia, which Miss Hadcroft, 23, said was a once in a lifetime experience, and during which Nathan braved a sky dive.
"When we got back he was in quite a lot of pain," she said. "We didn't know what it was but it was in his back and hips and we just didn't put two and two together. We thought he'd just pulled a muscle or something."
On his return, a scan discovered that the cancer had spread to his bones, and was incurable, but treatable.
"We were relieved in a way, and thought it could have been worse," she said. "At least it wasn't terminal, it wasn't happening anytime soon."
But his condition deteriorated quickly, and he was admitted to hospital in August this year.
"He sat down to watch the television and couldn't get back up," she said. "He could feel his legs but couldn't move them. We rang the ambulance, and he went into hospital.
"He was very weak, and I kept telling him that he'd just lost movement in his legs, of course he was going to be weak. I didn't know he was dying."
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Nathan died in hospital less than two weeks later.
Miss Hadcroft said his deterioration was unexpected, and they still believed at that point that the cancer was incurable, but not terminal.
"We were young, we didn't know what was happening and at times we didn't feel like it had really been explained to us," she said.
She is now urging people to push for answers if they have concerns.
"I want to encourage people to get lumps checked, and if it changes to go back and demand a scan," she said. "If it's just a cyst, that can be removed."
She said she would also like to see more flexibility in the duration after treatment that scans can be carried out, and felt that three months for Nathan was too long.
Vince Wolverston, chairman of testicular cancer charity It's On The Ball, said: "We always say to men to check yourself regularly, once a month is about the right period.
"If you detect anything that's not usual for you, then do get it checked out. If you feel that something's not quite right, make sure you are seen by a professional."
For more information on It's On The Ball, Nathan's favourite charity, which supports men with testicular cancer, visit itsontheball.org/
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