A brave mum has vowed to do all she can to carry on her son’s fundraising efforts after he tragically passed away earlier this year.
Caroline Mousdale, 53, from Portsmouth, lost her son Bradley Coombes on 19 February aged just 23, after he was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer more than two years earlier.
Caroline has called for GPs and medical professionals not to dismiss possible symptoms of bowel cancer just because a person is young, as she believes her son could still be alive if they had investigated before it was too late.
‘I feel like I’ve lost everything’
Before his diagnosis, Bradley, son of Richard Coombes, had suffered two years of stomach complaints but was repeatedly told it was a grumbling appendix or irritable bowel syndrome.
However, In October 2019 the symptoms significantly worsened resulting in a blood test which identified an iron deficiency resulting in the “devastating diagnosis we had feared”.
Speaking to The Portsmouth News, Caroline said: “They don’t entertain investigating it with young people until it is too late. My son should still be here. If you catch it early you have more chance of fighting it before it spreads.
“We were told over and over again it is “very rare for someone so young receiving this diagnosis" which is why GPs do not typically take it any further.
"I’m cross with myself. Bradley was not one to make a fuss, though, and would say ‘I’ll be Ok, I’ll beat this.’ He never let negative thoughts enter his mind despite his conditioning worsening with every scan.’
Caroline added: “I’m a single mum and he was my only child and I feel like I’ve lost everything. Not only have I lost my son but we’ve lost our future together. I won’t be able to see him getting married and have grandchildren and other things we would have been able to do.’
But despite the loss of Bradley, Caroline is determined to carry on where Bradley left off with his fundraising, despite his own deteriorating health.
Bradley used his birthday in April last year to raise £2,200 for the charity Clic Sargent which helped him during his struggle. He was diagnosed four weeks after starting his digital marketing job in London having completed a business and economics degree at Kingston University.
While his company paid Bradley for two months, he had not built up any National Insurance contributions to get sick pay, while Universal Credit forms were lost by the government department – leaving him with no income until the charity stepped in.
Covid didn’t stop Bradley’s treatment
"Bradley raised the money for them by way of showing his appreciation for how they helped him through the most difficult year of his life,’ said Caroline.
"Upon begrudgingly accepting the help from Clic, Bradley vowed once he was better that he would raise and donate the money he had to help him and raise much more for them. This is now my mission to do this for Bradley as they gave him back his dignity and independence.”
Bradley’s ferocious battle saw him initially spurn being operated in April last year after his bowel perforated but was begged by a consultant at Queen Alexandra Hospital to have an operation. ‘They were amazing and didn’t let Covid stop his treatment,’ Caroline said.
Despite bouts of chemotherapy where Bradley would feel good again after a few days and be off out with his friends, his health was failing. Yet he still found happiness after striking up a relationship with his ‘amazing’ girlfriend Alice Edge.
But in the end the illness took its toll. ‘He said to me 14 hours before he died: “I can’t do this any more mum”,’ Caroline said.
‘Well lived. Well loved.’
To honour Bradley’s memory and to raise money for Clic Sergant, Caroline is holding an event called Bradleys Perfect Day on July 17 at The Ship Inn Langstone, where he used to work.
The day will start with a charity football match at Rowlands Castle Recreation Ground where Bradley’s two former teams ‘Castle’ will take on The Ship Inn.
This will be followed by a charity auction and raffle with glittering prizes that have been donated from companies across the south alongside a barbecue and drinks to celebrate Bradley.
Money raised for Clic Sergant will add to the £12,000 donated to them by well-wishers from Bradley’s funeral fundraiser.
Caroline added: ‘Bradley lived a life full of fun, laughter and love. His understated popularity and quiet confidence will leave an irreplaceable void in the lives of the people who knew him.
‘A truly inspirational life. Well lived. Well loved.’