When Kerry Baggott saw her husband Jeremy lift a suitcase out from under the bed, Kerry Baggott never thought it would be the start of a heartbreaking journey for her family.
Jeremy had a shooting pain through his back, but since the couple was a “fresh and healthy” 46-year-old, the couple just thought it was something that would go away.
But the pain worsened and became constant, leaving Jeremy forced to use an inverter machine for years – which saw him hang on his head to help relieve the pain.
Mother-of-two Kerry, 50, who lives in Dorset with her two children Charlotte, 15, and Emily, 13, said the loving father and husband went for a couple of scans which showed there was a weakness in his back.
But that weakness turned out to be fatal multiple myeloma, which affects about 24,000 people in the UK and eventually led to Jeremy’s death.
It is the third most common type of blood cancer and is particularly difficult to detect as symptoms, including back pain, are often dismissed as aging.
Now, almost a year after Jeremy died, Kerry said back pain in 2015 could have been the start of Jeremy’s battle with blood cancer.
She said the couple ran the Dubai half marathon on their wedding day in December 2017 and Jeremy seemed fine.
Kerry told The Sun: “He really was the strongest he had ever been, he just had a little bit of a bad back that we thought was normal for someone his age.”
Right after the marathon, Kerry said Jeremy left to play golf for the day.
“He was a terrible golfer and when he went for a swing he had shooting pains running through him,” she said.
Doctors thought he had just sprained some muscles, but the pain continued into the new year, so Jeremy had blood tests and MRI scans taken.
It was at this point that his ribs began to ‘feel spongy’.
“He had a lump on his collarbone, pain in his arms, shoulders and had lots of MRIs that hadn’t detected anything major,” Kerry said.
But in February 2018, Kerry felt there had been a glimmer of hope for her husband.
“I remember I was at the school gates picking up the girls and Jeremy called me by his appointment.
“He told me the doctors thought he had some kind of arthritis. I remember the words that came out of my mouth, I said ‘we take it, it’s not like it’s leukemia or anything’.
“He was taken on strong steroids and as the weeks went by it was literally like watching a man fall apart.
“It was awful, he had massive sores on his tongue, and within days he could not even take a cup of tea,” Kerry said.
Another hospital MRI then discovered gaping holes in his body, and Kerry said it looked like the bone on his right arm had disappeared.
“It was then that we found out it was myeloma. Cancer cells had jumped through the bones and it was as if his bones were leaking water pipes.”
When Jeremy was finally diagnosed in March 2018, he had a broken collarbone, six broken ribs, several infections, and the bone in his upper right arm had completely disintegrated.
The family packed their lives together in Dubai and moved back to the UK.
Jeremy underwent surgery, radiation therapy, exhausting cycles of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
For a while, he returned and gave his family renewed hope that they would be able to enjoy some more precious years together.
Unfortunately, he had 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, “Because of Covid, we were denied our place in a clinical trial. It’s an incredibly sad situation for us because he was so young and the girls lost their father when they were so young. Our world was shattered and our hearts broken forever.
“Although life is incredibly painful right now – and probably always will be to an extent – me and the girls are determined that for Jeremy we must live our best lives, otherwise myeloma will have killed us too and it does not deserve privilege . “
Kerry and her girls are now raising money for the charity for blood cancer, Myeloma UK, and want others to be aware of the symptoms of the cancer before it is too late.
She said: “Jeremy and I had been together for 30 years and he was – is – the love of my whole life.
“It may be too late to help Jeremy, but it’s not too late for others. It’s my dream that one day a cure will be found for this terrible disease that split my family apart. In the meantime, I can not sit back and do nothing.
“Fundraising has to some extent helped our grief. We feel like we are creating something positive out of something so negative. And it helps us keep his memory alive.
“Jeremy was such a funny and positive man; we will continue in that direction if we can. ”
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