As Kerry Baggott watched her husband Jeremy pull a suitcase from under the bed, she never thought that this would be the start of a heartbreaking journey for her family.
Jeremy had a sharp pain in his back, but being a “fit and healthy” 46 year old the couple just thought it was something that was going to go away.
But the pain got worse and became constant, forcing Jeremy to use an inverter machine for years – which resulted in him hanging upside down to relieve the pain.
Mum of two, Kerry, 50, who lives in Dorset with two children, Charlotte, 15 and Emily, 13, said the loving father and husband did a couple of scans that showed his back was weak.
However, that weakness turned out to be deadly multiple myeloma cancer, which affected around 24,000 people in the UK, and which eventually led to Jeremy’s death.
It’s the third most common type of blood cancer and is especially difficult to spot because symptoms, including back pain, are often dismissed as aging.
Now, almost a year after Jeremy’s death, Kerry said the back pain in 2015 may have been the start of Jeremy’s battle with blood cancer.
She said the couple ran the Dubai half marathon on their wedding anniversary in December 2017 and Jeremy appeared to be doing fine.
Kerry told The Sun, “He really was the fittest he’d ever been, he just had a bit of a bad back, which we thought was normal for someone his age.”
Shortly after the marathon, Kerry said that Jeremy wanted to play golf for the day.
“He was a terrible golfer and when he took a swing his head was stabbed in pain,” she said.
Doctors thought he had just sprained a few muscles, but the pain persisted into the new year, so Jeremy had blood tests and MRI scans done.
At this point, his ribs began to feel spongy.
“He had a lump on his collarbone, pain in his arms and shoulders, and had a lot of MRIs that didn’t find anything big,” Kerry said.
But in February 2018, Kerry felt that there had been a glimmer of hope for her husband.
“I remember going to the school gate picking up the girls and Jeremy calling me after his date.
“He told me the doctors thought he had arthritis. I remember the words coming out of my mouth, I said ‘let’s take this, it’s not like leukemia or anything’.
“He was on heavy steroids and over the weeks it was literally like watching a man fall apart.
“It was awful, he had massive sores on his tongue and within a few days he couldn’t even have a cup of tea,” Kerry said.
Another hospital MRI then found gaping holes in his body and Kerry said it looked like the bone on his right arm had disappeared.
“That’s when we found out that it was a myeloma. Cancer cells had burst through his bones and it was like his bones were leaking water pipes ”.
When Jeremy was finally diagnosed in March 2018, he had a broken collarbone, six broken ribs, numerous infections, and the bone in his right upper arm had completely crumbled.
The family packed their lives in Dubai and moved back to the UK.
Jeremy had surgery, radiation therapy, grueling courses of chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant.
He recovered for a while and gave his family new hope that they could enjoy a few more precious years together.
Unfortunately, he suffered an unexpected relapse in September 2020 and died just two months later with Kerry and their daughters by his side on November 27th.
Kerry said, “We were denied our place in a clinical trial because of Covid. It’s an incredibly sad situation for us because he was so young and the girls lost their dad when they were so young. Our world was destroyed and our hearts broken forever.
“Although life is incredibly painful right now – and probably always will be to some extent – me and the girls are determined that we have to live our best lives for Jeremy or else myeloma has killed us too and it doesn’t deserve this privilege . “
She said, “Jeremy and I had been together for 30 years and he was – is – the love of my entire life.
“It may be too late to help Jeremy, but it’s not too late for others. It is my dream that one day a cure will be found for this terrible disease that has torn my family apart. In the meantime, I can’t sit back and do nothing.
“Fundraising has helped our grief to some extent. We feel like we’re creating something positive out of something so negative. And it helps us keep his memory alive.
“Jeremy was such a fun and positive man; We want to continue on this path if we can. ”