An ambulance technician whose indigestion turned out to be incurable cancer will marry his fiancée next week after a fundraiser to pay for the big day reached seven times its goal.
Dorian Williams, 44, was diagnosed with stomach cancer after he developed ‘unbearable’ pain for which he took himself to A&E while on a night shift as an Emergency Medical Technician in Swansea.
Three weeks later and following a series of tests, doctors broke the news that the father-of-three had advanced stomach cancer which could not be cured.
Dorian’s friends and colleagues have since raised more than £17,000 so that he can marry his fiancée of nine years, Louise, in a ceremony next week.
He will begin a course of chemotherapy this Friday to manage his symptoms and prolong his life.
Dorian said: “Truthfully, I still don’t think I’ve come to terms with it.’
“I was just shell-shocked when they told me it was cancer and that it was terminal.’
“It’s been all systems go and we haven’t had a moment to process it yet, but our friends have been fantastic in helping to plan the wedding of a lifetime.”
Dorian, of Blaen-y-Maes, Swansea, began to experience symptoms in September.
He said: “I’d been feeling lethargic for a while, but I just put it down to working 12-hour shifts and putting on some weight through the pandemic.’
“I also had indigestion, which the doctor prescribed me Gaviscon for and it went away in the end, so it wasn’t a problem.’
“The indigestion returned in February of this year and lasted about a week, then over Easter weekend I developed a pain in my right shoulder which became unbearable.’
“I was actually on a night shift at the time, so took myself off to A&E where the doctors thought it might have been a trapped nerve and gave me pain relief.’
“I also changed my eating habits to try and ease the indigestion, and over the course of a couple of weeks was able to lose some weight.”
But by mid-April, both the pain and indigestion had returned.
Dorian said: “Louise and I were actually away for the week in Carmarthen Bay but came back early so I could get myself to A&E again.’
“They did an emergency ultrasound, as well as a biopsy and endoscopy to see if they could get to the bottom of what was happening.’
“A week later, they called me back and told me I had stage four cancer of the stomach and liver.’
“Chemotherapy will prolong my life but not save it, and unfortunately we’re talking months, not years.”
Dorian, who has worked for the Welsh Ambulance Service for 20 years, and whose brother Ken is Acting Locality Manager in Powys, is urging others to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
He said: “To be honest, none of my symptoms seemed out of place.’
“I put my tiredness down to working 12-hour shifts and my indigestion down to eating on the move, such is the nature of the role.’
“I didn’t even have any pain until the later stages, by which point the cancer had spread.’
“My advice to anyone with the same symptoms as I had, or to anyone experiencing unexplained changes to their body, is to visit their GP and get it checked out.”
Dorian, a suicide first aid trainer who is two years into a three-year counselling degree at the University of South Wales, will pause his studies in order to receive treatment at the South West Wales Cancer Centre at Swansea’s Singleton Hospital.
The Jac Lewis Foundation, for whom Dorian is a volunteer counsellor, has also offered Dorian and his family free counselling during his treatment.
Dorian, a training officer for St John Cymru Wales in West Glamorgan for more than a decade, said: “Supporting people to manage their wellbeing is something I’ve always enjoyed.
“In 2018, I became a Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) Practitioner to help my colleagues in the ambulance service to manage traumatic events and was about to progress to TRiM Manager.
“I was also announced as GMB Union’s National Wellbeing Lead for the Welsh Ambulance Service at the start of this year.
“It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, but you just don’t expect to be on the receiving end of it for something like this.
“It’s surreal and emotional, but my family are keeping me focused, especially my brother Ken who also works in the service.”
Dorian’s marriage to Louise, 39, will take place at Oldwalls Gower, where their daughter Natalia, nine, and Dorian’s stepchildren Nathan, 19, and Naomi, 18, a soon-to-be mum, will help the couple to tie the knot.
“We’re truly humbled and amazed by everyone who has rallied together to make this special day happen,” said Dorian.
“It’s been overwhelming, and Louise and I can’t thank people enough.”
Recognising Stomach Cancer
Common symptoms include:
· Heartburn or indigestion that does not go away
· Weight loss
· Loss of appetite
· Burping a lot
· Feeling full after eating only a small amount
Other possible symptoms are:
· Pain or swelling in the upper tummy area
· Being sick
· Difficulty swallowing
· Black stools
· Feeling tired or breathless
· Having hiccups a lot
It is important to get any symptoms checked by your GP.
Visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website for more information about stomach cancer.