A father of two has been given up to 16 months to live after being diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer.
John Wooldridge, who has just become a grandfather, said he first became unwell in August 2020 when he began to struggle with food and drink.
But the 45-year-old admitted he didn’t see his GP about it until March 1, 2021, when he had lost nearly three stones and could barely keep his food down.
After scans, blood tests, an endoscopy and a laparoscopy, it was discovered that John had a cancerous tumor where his throat meets his stomach, as well as several other “stains” around the stomach itself.
Due to the widespread prevalence of the disease, Bridgend resident said surgery and radiotherapy can no longer be performed, with intensive chemotherapy the only option still available to him.
Without any treatment, his oncologist said he has between six and eight months to live, but chemotherapy will extend that by up to 16 months.
John now encourages anyone who feels anything unusual to get checked out by a medical professional so they don’t suffer the same fate as him.
“It’s safe to say our world was turned upside down by this news and I’ve been in a dark place for a few weeks, but I pulled myself up and would like to make the most of my remaining time,” he said. . “If someone feels unwell or finds lumps anywhere, get it checked as soon as possible. It only takes a little time and can save your life in the long run.”
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John, the father of daughter Rachel, 23, and son Ryan, 25, as well as grandfather to one-year-old Harper, said he started choking during meals last summer.
“I would manage to be sick in a tea towel and then I would feel great. It would happen every few weeks and was very intermittent. It happened like this, every now and then, for the rest of the year,” he recalled.
“I initially attributed it to eating too quickly or stress, as I had just reserved a house, which was a big purchase.”
John, from Coity, Bridgend, admitted he was very stubborn and put off going to his doctor to see what was going on.
“Coronavirus was part of the reason I didn’t go sooner, but I just assumed it would pass and settle down if everything [going on in my life] calmed down,” he admitted.
“But in early February, the choking happened as often as once a week.”
After getting the keys to his new house, he finally went to see his family doctor on March 1 of this year. When he finally got around to mentioning his three-stone weight loss, alarm bells started ringing with the doctor, who then referred him to the hospital for a checkup.
About 10 days later, an endoscopy was performed at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, followed by blood work and a CT scan shortly after.
It was then decided that an urgent laparoscopy – a keyhole surgery to analyze his stomach – was needed at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil to further investigate the problems.
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“When I came to in recovery, I was actually told it was probably cancer, and this was confirmed to me the following week,” he added.
“It felt like I was dreaming, like it was being told to someone else. It was a bit surreal.”
At times, John said he was still kidding himself for not seeking medical help before — but he said his GP probably prescribed him antacids just before he started losing weight.
“Some days I think ‘John, motherfucker’, but on others I think it’s pointless to look back on it. You have to look forward now.”
A consultant from the Velindre Cancer Center then gave him the terrible prognosis that, even with chemotherapy, he has barely a year to live.
“He told me this cancer wouldn’t go away. He said it to me three times. I can still see the deep look in his eyes,” John said.
“He said if I didn’t get chemotherapy he wouldn’t expect me to see the end of this year. If I got chemo he said I’d have between 12 and 16 months depending on how well it worked. “
John admitted it was terribly difficult to tell his two children about his terminal diagnosis, especially his son Ryan, who has learning disabilities.
“I didn’t want to tell anyone” [about the cancer diagnosis] initially because it coincided with my granddaughter’s first birthday,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure if I should go for the chemo because I wasn’t sure how it would affect my quality of life. You see documentaries of people who have spent their last six months bedridden and look like death has warmed up.
“After my research I finally came to the conclusion that it must be worth it. I have never given up anything in my life and I am not going to start now. I now have the mentality to fight this to the end.”
John has a GoFundMe Page so he can check off a few things on his “bucket list,” including a family trip to Disneyland in Florida, watching a Formula 1 race, and making as many memories as possible with his kids and granddaughter. Go to to donate to John and his family here.
“I’ve worked hard and long days all my life and never claimed benefits, but unfortunately and stupidly I don’t have life insurance either,” he added.
“So please, if you don’t have life insurance, get some. You think it will never happen to you, but I can sadly say it does.
“I don’t expect to raise a lot of money because there are people in a much worse position than me, but I can only hope.”
John has now started his first of eight rounds of IV chemotherapy, which has caused him severe fatigue and brain fog.