'Fit and healthy’ man whose numb hand turned out to be aggressive cancer dies following 22-month battle
A ‘fit and healthy’ man whose numb hand turned out to be an aggressive cancer has sadly died following a 22-month battle with the disease.
Steve Dixon 59, was told he may have had a stroke when he complained about tingling in his left hand but was left devastated when doctors discovered he had brain cancer.
The grandfather-of-three was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GMB), an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord, in March 2019.
The average survival time for GBM patients is devastatingly short – just 12-18 months.
Sadly, he died on January 9 this year surrounded by his loved ones, including Milo the dog, who howled and cried as Steve slipped away.
Steve’s widow Jane said she was left devastated as their dog wouldn’t even walk into their room for weeks after his passing.
Jane, from Baildon, near Bradford, said: “Steve was a fit and healthy man, who loved nothing more than a game of football or a round of golf.
“He didn’t smoke and only drank socially. He was the picture of good health.
“But this disease is indiscriminate.
“After we lost Steve, Milo wouldn’t go into his bedroom for weeks.
“It was heart-breaking to see how much he missed him. He has been such a wonderful support to me though and I know that If I didn’t have Milo, I wouldn’t want to be here.”
His doctor believed he may have suffered from a stroke, but a CT scan revealed a ‘mass’ on his brain.
Steve was sent for a more detailed MRI scan, which confirmed a brain tumour.
Four days later, he had a craniotomy at Leeds General Hospital (LGI), to debulk the tumour.
Jane said: “His neurosurgeon, Mr Simon Thomson, was brilliant. Steve coped really well with the surgery.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see him afterwards but I found him sitting up having a cup of tea and a sandwich. He was so brave and never complained about anything.
"He did really well with his cancer treatment, sailing through it with barely any side effects.”
The besotted couple married in August that year on a ‘lovely hot summer’s day’ with around 80 guests.
Jane said she was glad they were able to do so before Steve became ill again.
After finishing his treatment, Steve bounced back and stayed well for a year or so but in March 2020, a routine scan revealed tumour progression.
Jane said: “He went into hospital for more brain surgery just before the UK locked down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Again, he got through the surgery without any complications but this time, I was unable to visit him in hospital, because of the coronavirus restrictions.”
After he was discharged, Steve underwent a second course of chemotherapy but devastatingly it didn’t work.
His post-treatment scan showed evidence of more progression and he was told that there was nothing else they could do for him.
In August 2020, he got referred to the palliative care team and with their support, Jane cared for him at home.
She said: “There was never any doubt that when the time came, I would look after Steve myself.
“As a carer, I knew what to expect and how to make Steve’s final months as happy and as comfortable as possible.
“We’d spoken about his dying wishes. He said he wanted all his family around him and his beloved dog Milo on his bed.
“Milo is a four-year-old lurcher whippet cross rescue dog. He was Steve’s shadow and would follow him everywhere.”
Heartbroken by her loss, Jane has channelled her grief into fundraising to help find a cure for brain tumours.
Last year, she did a raffle to raise money for Brain Tumour Research and a collection at Steve’s funeral raised £561.
Jane added: “I have also set up a direct debit to make a regular donation to help this worthy cause.
“Through my own tragic experience, I became all too aware of the terrible statistics surrounding brain tumours.
“But I want to do all I can to help ensure other families are not torn apart by a brain tumour diagnosis.”
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just one percent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Matthew Price, Brain Tumour Research’s Community Development Manager, said: “We were so very sorry to hear about the devastation this disease has caused Jane and all of Steve’s loved ones.
"We remember him as we continue in our mission to find a cure for brain tumours.
“We thank Jane sincerely for her fundraising and for helping to raise awareness of the disease, by sharing her powerful story.
“This week is GBM Awareness Week and a poignant time to share Steve’s story and highlight the fact that treatment options for the disease are extremely limited and there is currently no cure.
“We cannot allow this devastating situation to continue.”