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Family of ‘kind and funny’ grandad warn of ‘silent killer’ cancer which saw him die aged 70

PUBLISHED: 08:49 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:35 09 November 2020

Leslie and daughter Gemma on her wedding day Picture: LORNA CLARK/BELLA-LOOE PHOTOGRAPHY

Leslie and daughter Gemma on her wedding day Picture: LORNA CLARK/BELLA-LOOE PHOTOGRAPHY

LORNA CLARK/BELLA-LOOE PHOTOGRAPHY

The family of a much-loved grandad-of-five want to raise awareness of a ‘silent killer’ cancer which led to his death aged 70.

Leslie Bones with grandsons Dylan and Harvey Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYLeslie Bones with grandsons Dylan and Harvey Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Leslie Bones, from Ipswich, was just five years into retirement from his career in the shipping industry when he was struck down with pancreatic cancer, the most deadly form of the illness.

His daughter Gemma Ramsey, 29, said her father had been experiencing generic symptoms – including an acid reflux – for a few weeks before he turned up to her son’s fifth birthday party “as yellow as a Simpson”.

A few days later the family received the crushing news that the 70-year-old had advanced pancreatic cancer - and was being put on end-of-life care.

“I’ll never forget that day,” said Mrs Ramsey, a mum-of-two.

Leslie Bones with grandson Reggie Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYLeslie Bones with grandson Reggie Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

“You know when you have an out of body experience, when you’re so numb in a situation – you can remember being in it, but you could have knocked me over with a feather.”

Mr Bones, also dad to Stuart, 35, and Oliver, 31, experienced what the family described as “generic” symptoms before collapsing on two occasions in November last year.

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Medics initially put this down to a stomach ulcer, but later discovered the cause was actually pressure from a tumour.

Leslie Bones (right) with son Stuart and daughter Gemma Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYLeslie Bones (right) with son Stuart and daughter Gemma Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

“The biggest tell-tale sign was when my dad turned up to my son’s birthday party in December,” his daughter added.

“It was shocking – I said to my brother Stu, ‘look at dad, he looks really yellow’. The look of him made my brother feel like he was going to faint.

“He looked waxy, he just didn’t look right.”

Aside from a known heart condition, Mr Bones had no other health problems. Within months of his diagnosis in December, he died in July, just a week before his 71st birthday.

Leslie on his daughter Gemma's wedding day Picture: LORNA CLARK/BELLA-LOOE PHOTOGRAPHYLeslie on his daughter Gemma's wedding day Picture: LORNA CLARK/BELLA-LOOE PHOTOGRAPHY

“It was out of the blue,” Mrs Ramsey said.

“It was just so quick, they call it the silent killer, because pancreatic cancer doesn’t present itself until it’s so advanced.

“I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer, but if you look into it it’s got the lowest survival rates. Within 10 years there’s been no progress with research into it either.”

Mr Bones qualified for a clinical trial of chemotherapy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, but after medics tried everything, he was transferred to St Elizabeth Hospice in June.

Leslie Bones (left) with grandson Dylan, sons Oliver and Stuart and Leslie's father Reg Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYLeslie Bones (left) with grandson Dylan, sons Oliver and Stuart and Leslie's father Reg Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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A week before he died, doctors confirmed the cancer had spread to his liver.

His family added: “Dad was a kind, funny and wise man. Everyone that knew him had lovely things to say about him. He was clearly a well-liked and loved man.

“The world is certainly a dull place without him and we miss him every day.

Leslie Bones and grandson Reggie Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYLeslie Bones and grandson Reggie Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

“We just want to get that message out there - don’t ignore symptoms, particularly not because of coronavirus, because it could end up saving your life.”

November is pancreatic cancer awareness month - and every year, hospitals in our region light up purple to shine a spotlight on issues relating to the illness.

To find out how you can get involved, visit the Pancreatic Cancer UK website.


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