Hemel parents lose only child to cancer just seven weeks after diagnosis

A ‘witty and courageous’ man tragically lost his battle with cancer just seven weeks after the disease was first detected.

Matthew Fortune, from Pimlico, Hemel Hempstead, was an only child to Sandra and Roger Fortune but was suddenly diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer during the pandemic.

He lived in a flat in Edgware and would travel back to visit his parents at least once or twice a week.

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The 37-year-old was described as a loving, witty and courageous man, who left people in stitches with his own sense of humour, which he attributed to his father.

But after the devastating diagnosis just after Easter this year, Matthew’s condition deteriorated rapidly and he died just a day before his dad’s 70th birthday.

With no underlying health conditions, Matthew fell ill on Easter Sunday and his mum, Sandra, told him to come back home.

Through 111 calls and ambulance visits, he was soon admitted to Watford General hospital where the doctor announced the devastating news.

“If I didn’t have Roger, I wouldn’t bother waking up in the morning,” said Sandra.

“We were told by the bowel cancer doctor that Matthew had stage four cancer by phone. Matthew was there with the doctor and we were at home on speakerphone, so that was a big shock.”

Matthew Fortune fell ill at Easter time

The urgency of the pandemic has disrupted the treatment of a large number of cancer patients.

This has meant that some of those who were in need of vital hospital care have either deteriorated or died because of it, added with contracting the virus.

Sandra explained: “We then had to wait, and this was probably Covid related, so I’m bitter because Covid was one of the reasons we lost him so quickly – two weeks for a colonoscopy then two weeks for the oncology.

“By this time it had been six weeks and Matthew had lost a lot of weight with his face completely swollen in. It was dreadful.”

Soon after, Matthew was seen by a doctor at Watford General who had re-confirmed the stage four bowel cancer and said his liver was filled with tumours and chemotherapy would be the next option.

In the meantime while they waited for his sessions to start, Matthew was being nursed at home.

“Matthew seemed to just go into semi-consciousness”

(Image: Sandra Fortune)

On May 22, Matthew had his Covid-19 vaccine which he didn’t respond well to. He was very weak by then and the jab knocked him back even more.

Sandra said: “He was very tired from the jab and never recovered from that day, he just went downhill rapidly.

“Matthew seemed to just go into semi-consciousness the next two days.”

The next day, the doctor overseeing Matthew at The Peace Hospital said to him “you really haven’t got that long to go.”

Sadly, Matthew died just two days after on May 27, a day before his father’s 70th birthday.

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“He was incredibly brave, not like many,” Sandra added.

“Everyone thought he had longer because they were getting hospital beds ready [for his chemotherapy].

“The worst thing about it was that he had no symptoms. The doctor explained how he had a very aggressive cancer which spread quicker than expected.”

A month before Matthew was diagnosed with the life-shortening cancer, he had mentioned a pain in his shoulder which he received therapy for after getting it checked up.

Sandra also mentioned that he was always tired but put that down due to the pandemic.

“I think everyone was having mental and physical issues because of Covid, I mean it was just so distressing,” she said.

Matthew and his parents
Matthew and his parents
(Image: Sandra Fortune)

Matthew was a fundraiser at Langdon Foundation, a charity that enables adults and young people with learning disabilities and autism to live independent lives.

Sandra has set up a GoFundMe for people to donate to in memory of Matthew.

She explained that the charity page is dedicated to The Peace Hospital in Watford as this was where Matthew and his family got ‘serious support’ from.

“Instead of flowers please, in Matthew’s memory, donate to The Peace Hospice Watford who cared for Matthew’s medical needs throughout his short fight with cancer and supported us all emotionally and in every way they could,” Sandra said.

“He felt very comfortable with them and he did spend three days with them while they tried to manage his pain. Unfortunately, pain levels were so severe and the cancer was spreading quite rapidly.”

Matthews funeral will be held on Friday June 18, at West Herts Crematorium in Watford.

HertsLive – Hemel Hempstead