Lung cancer meant my dad never got to see my dream come true

Great British Menu finalist, Adam Simmonds, owes much of what he’s achieved to his Dad, George. However, when George died of lung cancer at just 68, it meant he never got to see his son accomplish his dream, nor did he get to see the restaurant he himself played such a big part in planning:

Dad was so instrumental in planning my restaurant. He would come to meetings, look at potential sites. He helped me with the business plans and was constantly researching opportunities. But above all, the emotional support and encouragement he gave me never wavered. Then just one day, he simply wasn’t there to give it anymore.

Dad was in hospital when I was filming the BBC2 show ‘Great British Menu’. The programme didn’t air until 2014 and dad passed away the October before. He never saw me make the final and cook at the Banquet for Veterans in St. Paul’s.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg; there is so much that dad will miss out on, and my family and I will miss out on too.

"It feels like the government has the attitude that it’s your own fault if you get lung cancer. Yes, my dad smoked but why does that matter? If he was a non-smoker, would that have made him a better dad, a better husband, a harder worker? No, of course not."
Adam strongly supports a national lung health check programme

George passed away from lung cancer in October 2013

George was a beloved husband, dad and grandad

"Dad had not long retired when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and was so looking forward to his retirement with mum, Chris. They had been married for 45 years; dad used to love telling us stories of the early days of marriage. He had worked tirelessly all through his life so they could have a happy retirement together. Now he won’t even get to kiss her on their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

"He will never see me and my brother, Paul, get married. Thankfully, he was here for my sister, Geraldine’s, wedding and not only did he give her away, he also made and decorated the wedding cake. I remember everyone commenting on how good it looked and tasted!

"He will never meet any children that my brother or I will have, to see what they could achieve and to encourage them the way he encouraged us. He was always so proud of his two grandsons, Ewan and Liam (my sister’s children), of how well they did at school and how clever they are. He was always encouraging them to think and their special pastime together was building Lego – it was their thing – a ‘me and my grandad special thing’. If the boys got Lego, it always had to be built with grandad.

George passed away from lung cancer in October 2013
George with his beloved grandsons, Ewan and Liam

"They set him to task with some of the cakes they wanted him to make for their birthdays…..but he always managed to do what they asked for and they were delighted with the results. They always knew that he would manage to do any style of cake they wanted.

"Both boys miss him a great deal and they often ask - “Why did grandad have to die?” Not long after dad passed away, Geraldine, Ewan and Liam were at the cemetery visiting dad – we call it ‘Dad’s garden’ – and Ewan said to his mum “What’s Heaven like?” She said “it could be whatever you want it to be”. “Then grandad’s would be a nice restaurant on the Spurs football pitch”, he replied. Liam then asked if “Grandad could get Skype in Heaven”; he just wanted to talk to him…

“We all miss him so, so much, for a million different reasons. When I bought my flat, Mum and Dad would come down every weekend, even sometimes during the week, to help. There was nothing he couldn’t turn his hand to. If I had a problem with my computer, he could fix it over the phone! "He had his own way of calming down a situation. Just hearing his voice was reassuring. The hole that has been left due to this disease can never be filled and even though it has been four and a half years, the pain is still as fresh as though it was 17th October 2013. "That is why I support a national lung health check programme. Everyone deserves to have the best chance to beat lung cancer and to have the best treatments available.

"The government should not be willing to let more people like my dad die, let more families go through what we went through, that emotional, all consuming rollercoaster. Because that’s what will happen without this health check."
Adam knows first hand how important a lung health check is - for patients and their families

“Dad went to the doctor with what we all thought was a chest infection. That was just before Christmas 2012. He was given antibiotics but it didn’t clear up. So he went back and was given more antibiotics. When there was still no improvement, the doctor suggested an x-ray and that’s when we started to realise it could be something more serious.

He was diagnosed on Valentine’s Day 2013. Had there been a regular lung health check or screening programme in place then maybe Dad’s cancer would have been found much quicker, even before any symptoms started to show. Dad passed away eight months later in October 2013.

It feels like the Government has the attitude that it’s your own fault if you get lung cancer. Why else is there not a screening programme already in place? Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer after all! Yes, my Dad smoked in the early days of his life but he had stopped smoking for 35 years. Firstly, let’s not forget that Dad was of a generation that did not know about the health risks of smoking and secondly, and most importantly, why does that matter? If he was a non-smoker, would that have made him a better Dad, a better Husband, a harder worker? No, of course not.

George passed away from lung cancer in October 2013
George with his sons at Alton Towers, and with his wife and daughter

“My Dad was the kind of man who made you feel safe, that no matter how bad things were, it would always work out. His love was completely unconditional. There simply wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for us.

One of my most precious memories of dad was actually when he was very sick. He was telling stories from his childhood and, even though he was really sick, he was laughing and laughing. He was laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes. He was just like his old self. For that moment, it was like we had our dad back and mum had her husband back. He passed away shortly afterwards.

The Government should not be willing to let more people like my Dad die, let more families go through what we went through, that emotional, all consuming rollercoaster. Because that’s what will happen without this health check.

My Dad taught me so much. If I can be half the man he was then that says it all.

Don't let what happened to George and his family happen to any more families.
Sign our petition and show your support for a national lung health check. #LetsRoll

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