Daughter of bowel cancer victim to raise awareness at Hemel Hempstead Town football match

Emma Cooper. pictured with her father Frank O'Rourke, who died of bowel cancer aged 57
Emma Cooper. pictured with her father Frank O'Rourke, who died of bowel cancer aged 57

A woman will raise awareness of bowel cancer at a football match - after seeing her dad succumb to the disease.

Emma Cooper watched her father Frank O’Rourke deteriorate after he contracted bowel cancer, which kills around 16,000 people in the UK every year.

He died aged 57 in November 2014, having been diagnosed with the illness just over two years earlier.

But 34-year-old Emma, from Grovehill, wants to see more men made aware of the symptoms - which include pain in the abdomen, bleeding from the bottom and unexplained weight loss.

And she will be receiving the help of Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club in spreading the message on Saturday (February 11), when they play Maidenhead United at home.

The Hemel side will walk out of the tunnel before the game with ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’ shirts on.

Emma, whose company O’Rourke Personnel are sponsors of the football club, said: “At the moment there is a real drive to raise awareness of bowel cancer, and also lower the age limit for tests for it.

“Typically men don’t talk about these kinds of things as much, especially when you’re in a masculine environment.

“So even if this event helps just one person, it will have been worth it - and we’ll try and raise some cash for charity while we’re doing it.”

Speaking about her father’s death, she said: “Three weeks after his 57th birthday, Dad took a turn for the worst.

“I had rang the nurse and she said he was OK, but she didn’t know my dad. He was a proud strong Irishman and wasn’t going to admit he needed more help.

“I visited my dad on the Wednesday before he died and he lay in bed barely able to speak. It broke my heart.

“I could feel panic raising in my chest not knowing what to do. So I rang Beating Bowel Cancer. For an hour, I spoke to a man called Gary, the most gentle emphatic person I have had the pleasure of talking to.

“He told me Dad was near the end, we needed to make sure he was getting the correct pain relief and that he had a bed in the hospice. I took those steps, and my dad was in the hospice on the Thursday.

“Over the next few days all the grandchildren that loved him so much said their goodbyes. They made wooden hearts with words written on them why they loved grandad so much.

“On the evening of Tuesday November 11 at around 11.30pm at the hospice I laid next to him, and thanked him for being such a fantastic dad and grandad and talked about my memories with him.

“His eyes couldn’t open and he couldn’t speak anymore but a tear ran from his eye. I left dad’s room to get a glass of water and returned to see the pain had left his face. Dad was gone and all we could do was kiss him goodbye.

“I picked up the phone to thank Gary a week later for everything he done, when I received the terrible news Gary had also passed away.

“I will never forget the support Beating Bowel Cancer offered, and want to help raise money so they can give that support to others and help raise awareness of Bowel Cancer at an early curable stage.”

If diagnosed early, more than 90 per cent of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully.

Emma will be holding a silent auction to raise money for Beating Bowel Cancer - with prizes including a signed Matt Dawson rugby ball and a signed Gianfranco Zola football boot.

To donate, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/displaySomeoneSpecialPage.action?pageUrl=frankorourke