“We live our lives as Irfon lived his, we enjoy every second”
Next week will mark the fifth anniversary of the death of North Wales' veteran cancer campaigner Irfon Williams.
Irfon, who passed away when he was only 46, famously used his fight against cancer to highlight the plight of cancer patients in Wales, and also raised a huge amount of funds for treatment.
The former nurse and mental health manager from Bangor launched #teamirfon campaign shortly after being diagnosed with bowel cancer, raising over £150,000 to support patients on Ysbyty Gwynedd’s Alaw Unit through the North Wales NHS Charity, Awyr Las.
His wife Becky, now 42, has continued to campaign for Team Irfon and to date the fund has raised an incredible £205,589. The money funds items that the NHS may not be able to provide, such as scalp cooling caps that can prevent cancer sufferers from losing their hair. There will soon be a mental health support worker on the Alaw Ward, at Ysbyty Gwynedd, giving psychological support to cancer patients, that has also been funded thanks to the monies raised and donated to Team Irfon. It’s an incredible and fitting legacy for the tireless campaigner who had so much passion for life, who never complained, despite enduring so much including five operations and 50 bouts of chemotherapy.
His story captured the hearts of the people of North Wales and beyond, and his beloved wife of 10 years was always by his side until the very end.
Becky says she always feels anxious on the anniversary of Irfon’s death, and is not looking forward to turning 43 as her father died at that age, when she was only 14, and it was the same age as when Irfon was first diagnosed.
The couple’s boys Sion and Ianto are now 12 and 11, and their proud mum says they are both doing really well, and often talk about their Dad. Sion in particular reminds Becky of Irfon.
“Sion is a lot like his dad, with his looks and some of his mannerisms and that is a lovely thing,” said Becky, a mental health nurse.
She continued: “As Irfon and I both worked in mental health we prepared the boys as much as we could, helped by picture and story books.
“They both knew that he had cancer and that people can die from it.”
“What is missed most about Irfon is his humour, positivity and laughter.
“I also feel sad that he can’t see our boys. He would have been so proud of them, to see how well they are doing.”
Becky says it was the love for her boys is what kept her going after Irfon’s death, and support from family and friends.
She is rightly very proud of Irfon’s legacy of raising so much money for the Alaw Ward.
“It’s a testament to the man who was so keen to raise money and raise awareness of cancer and the importance of getting an early diagnosis,” said Becky.
“Team Irfon was a positive that came out of a truly horrendous situation.
“He would be very pleased that a mental health support worker is going to be funded in the Alaw Ward, as he’d be horrified by the waiting lists all over Wales for people to receive mental health support.”
Becky hopes people will again support the #TeamIrfon swim taking place on September 10th that has in the past raised thousands for the Alaw Ward.
In 2019, 400 people came to cheer on 42 swimmers who completed the 2.6 mile course along the Menai Strait, from Beaumaris Pier to Bangor Pier. The swimmers’ ages ranged from 13 to 70, with people travelling from as far as London and Bristol to take part.
Becky will be there with her boys and new partner, who she met unexpectedly 18 months ago.
“I wasn’t looking for anyone, and I didn’t expect to meet someone, but I am so very happy and feel lucky to have found love again,” said Becky with a smile.
After being widowed I certainly don’t take anything for granted and we live our lives as Irfon did, enjoying every second.”
You can donate to #TeamIrfon or register for #TeamIrfon 2022 swim (registration will be open on 01/06/22) at Awyr Las | Hafan.