Today I had the pleasure of meeting fifty-nine year-old Stuart Luck who is resident in the Long Term Unit, here at Alice House Hospice.
Stuart was delightful to chat to, this is his story in his own words, as told to Alison Emerson.
"Oh, and I’d have gone to see the doctor sooner, much sooner – typical man."
“I’m a country lad at heart, we lived in Castleton in the Yorkshire Moors where Dad, originally from Thornaby, was a local policeman. We lived there until I was three years-old, when Dad re-located with work, back to his roots in the North East.
Fast forward to when I started working – I’ve had lots of jobs. I started off working on a farm after studying at Houghall Agricultural College in Durham. Then I spent eight months working in a bar in Scotland, before I moved to London to become a Concierge in a hotel; I looked after our visitors, booking theatre tickets and making sure they had everything they needed for their stay.
It was at this point I decided to head off to Australia for a year but before I went, I took a truck driving test and got my license.
Once I returned from Australia, I spent three years driving removals trucks in Europe, mostly U.K. to Spain, Greece or Italy. It was 1987 and boom time; people were buying holiday homes abroad and we moved their belongings. It was a great time, I got to spend lots of time in places I’d never visited before.
In 1991, I started driving longer international trips; I’ve visited Syria and Damascus amongst many other places. It was in 1995 that I was approached to drive a truck for a Rod Stewart tour for three months. I took the job and have never really looked back. I drove the truck with the steel rig/stage on.
We would arrive at the venue and it would take days to put the stage up. It was at this point we would have a few days to spend in the location, site seeing, eating and enjoying the local hospitality – it was a great life. I drove for many musical stars; Queen, Bette Midler, Michael Jackson, Bryan Adams and The Eagles, to name a few – I didn’t always get to see the actual shows but I certainly saw a lot of the UK and foreign places, many we’d go back to time and again and were always welcomed back by the locals.
I continued to drive for the same company right up until COVID-19 hit and most of our work dried up – I was still driving, just swapping music tours to supermarket deliveries!
About nineteen months ago when I went to the toilet one morning, my wee looked like Ribena, I thought it was odd but then it didn’t happen again for a few weeks. It continued like this for some time, coming and going and I always felt well. Then the tours started again and I was always to busy to pop to the doctors, I’d arrive home from one tour, take a few days off and then we’d be away again. All the time the episodes were becoming more regular, even though I never felt poorly. It was a while before I began to have other symptoms and started to feel unwell but at that time I was a lead driver on a Queen tour and didn’t want to let a friend down so ignored it and carried on!
Forward to June 2022, I was heading home to my wonderful partner, Monique, who lives in Plymouth, when I mentioned to my sister what had been happening. Of course, she told me off! I came home to the North East instead of going to see Monique and my sister had me booked into the doctors straight away.
I underwent tests and scans and lots of blood tests and the outcome was that I had bladder cancer. September time, I had surgery to remove my bladder and it was after that that I received the news that the cancer had spread to my bones, liver and kidneys and that it was terminal.
I was discharged from hospital to recuperate at home and I managed fine at first, but then I lost the use of my legs and my urostomy which drains urine from my kidneys – was blocked. The urine was drained away in hospital and I felt much better, but despite being discharged back home, I was unable to manage on my own. It was at that point I came into Alice House Long Term Unit.
I’ve been here about six weeks; this place has saved my life! The amazing staff have supported me through the adjustment of no longer living a fully active life and have nursed me through two cases of e-coli which originated from my urostomy.
I’m in no pain, a little discomfort but not pain. The nights are long, I’m so used to driving at night!
But, I’ve had a great life, I worked, been financially comfortable and I’ve had a really good laugh. I’ve enjoyed days off in so many different places, I’ve been out and about and spent time with a great group of people. I’ve had lovely cars and a fabulous collection of watches too.
So, for now, this is my home. Monique travels up regularly (it’s such a long journey for her) to see me and I have regular visitors.
If I had my time again, I wouldn’t change much. I’d like to see some shows; I’d have loved to see Glen Campbell or Anita Baker live and I would really like to see the Saw Doctors again.
Oh, and I’d have gone to see the doctor sooner, much sooner – typical man.” ■
Stuart has sadly passed away since the time of writing. In loving memory of Stuart.