Simon Cowls hopes to survive the coronavirus pandemic so he can travel the UK with his wife before his terminal cancer takes hold.
A HUSBAND with terminal bowel cancer fears the coronavirus outbreak means he’ll never hug his wife again – and has begged the British public to respect the lockdown so he might get to live a normal life for a short time before he dies.
Simon Cowls and his wife Ali bought a humble camper van to create some final memories together. This month, they were due to set off from their Devon house on their dream road trip through the British countryside.
Instead, Mr Cowls spends each night alone in the van, parked in their backyard, in an effort to shield his vulnerable immune system from the threat of coronavirus.
He kisses his wife goodnight via Skype.
The 51-year-old is on antibody treatment that puts him in what the NHS has classified as the highest risk group, forcing him to self-isolate – even from his own wife – for 23 hours a day.
“Now I don’t have the person who loves and cares for me around me either. It’s hard, it’s my wife. I need a cuddle.”
Through tears, he continued: “It really annoys me when I see people who think they’re invisible, carrying around like their lives are normal,” he said.
“You can’t do that, you’re going to kill people. If you don’t get it you’ll give it to your grandma or your mum – I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to listen. If I get this it will kill me, and I have other friends who have it and are fighting for their lives.”
The pandemic has amplified the already-immense stress of being terminally ill, stripping away the ‘big line of support’ the NHS provided as surgeries close, resources stretch and supplies run low.
“Suddenly you feel vulnerable, you feel isolated,” he said.
Mr Cowls said his GP recently expressed concern over the phone that people were stockpiling medication in the same way they had done with toilet paper, which posed a risk to the supply of his life-saving medication. “I will die without it,” he said.
He also faced delayed treatment as his doctors weigh up the risk of continued therapy, which would further weaken his immune system amid the coronavirus threat, against the risk of stopping treatment and allowing his tumours to spread quicker.
This weekend, Mr Cowls received one of the government’s first 50,000 food parcels sent to the country’s most vulnerable to help them self-isolate for a mandatory period of three months.
It included toilet rolls, shower gel, tinned food, bread, cereal and fresh produce.
Mr Cowls hopes to survive the three months of shielding from society and longs for the day he does not have to video chat his wife from the lonely camper van.
“This is the time at the end of my life where we should be enjoying ourselves, creating memories, seeing loved ones,” he said.
“We want to have everyone help flatten the curve of deaths so we, and others, can do that.”