A 25-year-old and his fiancée are racing to tie the knot after he found out he he had an aggressive form of cancer – just an hour after discovering he had contracted Covid-19.
Zach Stockford had been complaining of pains in his side since September, 2020, and made several trips to his GP who initially thought he may have IBS or gallstones.
But, after eventually visiting A&E where he was given a CT scan, a “shadow” was found on his liver and a biopsy then carried out to see whether it was cancerous.
It transpired that Zach was living with an aggressive form of bowel cancer which had spread to his liver and was likely to be incurable.
To make matters worse, just 60 minutes before being given the terrible prognosis, on February 18, he received an email from the NHS stating he had tested positive for Covid-19 and would need to self-isolate with his fiancée Katie Davies, who was also infected with the virus, and his four-year-old stepdaughter Evylynne-Hope Davies.
“We just broke down and cried to each other. There was nothing else we could do at that point,” recalled Zach, from Dafen, Llanelli.
Katie, 24, added: “It literally broke his heart. He can’t even give his mother a hug because we’re all self-isolating. His sister is also pregnant and so he can’t see her at this really important time in her life. It has been so difficult.
“With all this stress around us it would have been nice to have our family around us, but we can’t.”
Find out about coronavirus cases in your area:
Zach said that until he had tested negative for coronavirus, he was unable to have any further checks to explore what treatment he needed for his cancer.
“They are definitely going to be trialling some form of chemotherapy, but knowing what type is still unknown,” he added.
“We have so many unanswered questions because of Covid, and we can’t see doctors in the hospital to have a proper conversation. We have just been left in the dark.”
As a result of his illness, Zach has lost his zero-hours contract job as a factory worker and cannot claim any sick pay – leaving the family in financial difficulty.
Katie, who also lost her job due to Covid in November, 2020, added: “Zach was the one who was keeping us going financially. We have had to borrow money off family just to keep our house which has severe subsidence.
“To find out you’ve got cancer is one thing, but to then find out you have Covid, have your house falling down around you and then lose your job all at the same time is something else. How Zach is coping is beyond me because it’s ripping my heart out of my chest.”
The pair, who have known each other since they were children, got engaged in March, 2020, and were hoping to get married in Manor Park Country House, Swansea.
But their finances, as well as Zach’s devastating diagnosis, mean they are now keen to tie the knot as soon as possible in a registry office.
“We wanted to buy a house together, have children together; we were just planning on settling down and getting on with our lives,” Katie added.
“Until they can do more tests we don’t even know long he has left.”
A GoFundMe page was set up for the family by close friend Lowri Roch which aims to fund a small wedding for the couple, as well as give them some financial security in the weeks ahead.
Within just nine hours more than £3,000 was donated to them. To contribute please click here.
You can now get all of the need-to-know news sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our free Gist Vile newsletter.
It takes just seconds to subscribe – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
“The support we have been given is absolutely incredible,” said Zach.
“I have never been one to accept any form of donation from anyone. I’ve always been the sort of person to help out when I can. I’m lost for words with the amount of love and support that we have been given.”
Katie said Zach had been a rock throughout the traumatic time and was determined to beat the disease.
“Everybody probably says this about their own partner, but through this he’s thought about everybody but himself,” she added.
“He is the most amazing, most perfect person anyone could ask to be with. Everyone gets struggles in their relationship, but we never argue. We literally have the best relationship.
“I think we first met in karate when we were about eight, but he’s been in my life for so long that I’m not even sure when we first met. He is the backbone of this family.”
Both Zach and Katie added that they were coping well with Covid-19, even though they had lost their sense of taste and smell.
“We get tired and get the odd cough, but nothing major and our daughter is absolutely fine,” Katie added.
“We will be able to come out of isolation on February 26 but we’ll need to take another test.”