Man with terminal bowel cancer quits chemo and plans own wake ‘death party’
A terminal cancer patient has stopped treatment and will attend his own wake ‘death party’ in a bid to make as many memories as possible in the time he has left.
Russ Pegrum, 48, from Waltham Abbey, has bowel cancer and was told in September there was nothing else medics could do despite being given the all-clear in March.
Mr Pegrum decided to stop chemotherapy for his mental health and has planned an end-of-life party to catch up with loved ones.
He said the choice to stop treatment was a bit of a gamble, after a rollercoaster diagnosis since his initial one in August.
He explained: “It was a bit of a bargain, I was told in March that the cancer was gone, I was told in June that the cancer was back and I was told in September that there was nothing people could do.”
Russ has spoken openly about his diagnosis and received tremendous support from his family and friends even going so far as to plan his own funeral and arrange a ‘death party’.
Russ’ death party, as he’s fondly called it, will take place on Saturday, November 13 and will give him a chance to meet old family and friends while also having a good time.
He continued: “A couple of people suggested I have the wake so that I can be there, it’s an opportunity to see old friends and not necessarily say goodbye but just have a good time.
“I try to give myself little things to look forward to so I am really looking forward to it.”
The party will have pizza, booze and games with Russ also setting an optional fancy dress theme for guests to come representing death.
Russ also took the opportunity to plan his own funeral.
He’s written his own poems, left money from his pension to his brother, nephew and niece and just has a few more things to do until it is finalised.
“I’ve still got to write a little bit more, I’ve picked the coffin and the hymns,” Russ said.
“I’ve just got to pick the photographs but it’s about 80 per cent done.
“It can be death-related, if they want to wear a skull or grim reaper costume they can.”
Russ’ mum, Brenda fully supports his choice to end the treatment, and his option to attend his own wake.
She said: “I think families don’t talk enough about death and I think it will help a lot of people who are going through the same thing.
”Don’t you think when someone passes away you wish you had said this or that.
“We’ve got a lot of admiration for Russ.”
Brenda and the rest of the family have been spending a lot of time with Russ, taking him to fancy dinners, seeing his favourite football team, Tottenham Hotspur, and the family also got tattoos in honour of Russ and his journey.
Throughout all of this Russ and Brenda have been working tirelessly raising money for charities that help those dealing with cancer.
Brenda spent a lot of her life raising money for charities and has now passed on that opportunity to her own son.
She said: “Russ has taken over where I left off, I used to do the race for life for nine years.
“I’ve done lots of charities over the years I never ever thought what I had raised would help my son – well it hasn’t helped because it’s terminal but it will help others.”
The last 36 months have been very difficult for Russ but people have been supporting him all the way, often donating money to his JustGiving page which was set up by local community champion, Shane Yerrell.
The page has so far received over £3,000 in donations from 108 different supporters but he even gets stopped in the street with random people handing him money.
Brenda says it’s been amazing to use this time to spend with her son and also help raise awareness for others dealing with the same illness.
“It is a comfort knowing that with the situation we are in we are helping others, we can never thank everybody individually, people we don’t even know have been donating,” she said.