This happy holiday photograph is of Market Harborough’s Dixon family this week in Majorca – but kidney cancer means there’s tragedy behind the smiles.
Dad James Dixon (45) now has life-limiting cancer and is currently on holiday with an oxygen tank because of a collapsed lung caused by tumours.
“I’ve also had six doses of pneumonia since October” he told the Mail. “And I had to drive to Majorca with a friend, because airlines won’t take me any more.”
Kidney Cancer Awareness Day is this month, on June 21, which is why James and wife Rebecca are telling the Mail a little of their story.
More than 10,000 British people are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year.
Julia Black of Kidney Cancer Support Network (KCSN), said: “Putting the spotlight on kidney cancer is so vital as many people have not even heard of kidney cancer despite it being one of the fastest growing cancers.”
James was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney in August 2013 – four days before he and Rebecca were due to get married.
“I’d had severe back pain, and I’d said to my wife – my future wife – that something wasn’t right” said James.
“The diagnosis was a massive shock” said Rebecca (37). “James asked me if I still wanted to marry him. But I’d waited 30 years to find my prince. I wasn’t going to ditch him because he’d got ill.
Now it’s been nearly five years since the couple’s “worlds came crashing down”.
Town hairdresser Rebecca said: “There have been many highs, the birth of our two boys – Brody (four) and Blake (nearly two) – many special family times and as many holidays as we can squeeze in.”
James continues to work part-time as a sales and marketing director for Clan Ceramics “and is ultimately the best dad and husband anyone could wish for” says Rebecca.
“Our love for one another pulls us through the dark days and James is particularly stoic so even the faintest whimper from me and I’m brought back to reality by James saying ‘don’t let today spoil our tomorrow’.
“We need to live each day fully but also be fully prepared for the future. We haven’t discussed funerals yet and James refuses to until things get worse. So for today we’re having a lovely family holiday and are a normal loving family that lives with cancer.”
Julia Black said: “Here in the UK the incidence of kidney cancer has risen by nearly 50 per cent, but there is no routine screening programme.”
Members and volunteers for KCSN are organising fundraising events from mountain climbing to tea parties throughout June. For more information, go to www.kcsn.org.uk/support-us/fundraising-events/.
To help raise awareness of kidney cancer, a short online World Kidney Cancer Day quiz has been produced. The quiz is at worldkidneycancerday.org
Rebecca said: “We don’t know how much future we’ve got. We live our life in three month blocks.”