Barman Who Thought His Sore Legs Were Caused By Long Shifts Diagnosed With Terminal Lung Cancer

'It was a massive shock.'

03/06/2016 12:01

A barman who thought the pains in his legs were due to working long hours standing was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given month to live.

Newlywed Rhys James, 37, admits he thought nothing of it when he started experiencing painful legs in March last year, and simply took paracetamol and ibuprofen to numb the pain.

But over time the pain in Rhys’ legs became progressively worse until he was unable to walk, and he was eventually diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis.

Bar manager Rhys, from Longsight, Greater Manchester, was prescribed a course of blood thinning tablets, but weeks later he was rushed into hospital after suffering from a pulmonary embolism, and tests revealed he had a tumour in his chest.

Rhys was immediately told the cancer was terminal – and doctors gave him a life expectancy of 12-18 months.

Weeks after his diagnosis, Rhys proposed to his partner Rhea, a teaching assistant, and the pair married recently in a wedding organised by the charity Gift of a Wedding.


Rhys said: “I had the pains in my legs for months but I thought nothing of it. I was working long hours in the bar at the time and it was normal for my legs to feel quite sore after a long shift. I would take paracetamol and ibuprofen to stop them aching. 

“After a few months the pain seemed to be getting worse, so I went to my GP. I was initially diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis and prescribed warfarin, but two weeks later I woke up in the night with pain in my chest.

“I rushed straight to hospital and the doctors carried out tests. I still didn’t think it was anything serious, but they kept me in for two weeks.

“When the consultant came to see me I thought it was because I was being discharged, but then he pulled the curtain across and I realised there was something wrong.

“They told me there and then that it was terminal. They told me I was looking at between 12 and 18 months. It was a massive shock.” 

Rhys started chemotherapy straightaway and has been on treatment since last July.

Rhys said: “The doctors told me they couldn’t guess how long I am going to last. I started chemotherapy straightaway. I was on chemo within a fortnight. I have been on it every three weeks since then.

“Weeks after I was diagnosed, my boss told me I could go and stay in his cottage in Scotland, so Rhea and I dashed up there and I proposed. I was delighted when she said yes. We were keen to get married straightaway but we didn’t think we would be able to afford it.”


Rhys and Rhea applied to charity Gift of a Wedding – who organise weddings for terminally-ill people and their partners.

The charity accepted the application from the couple and appealed to local businesses to provide a venue, flowers, a photographer, videographer and other wedding essentials for free.

The couple got married at the Belle Epoque in Knutsford, Cheshire, in a ceremony surrounded by family and friends.

Rhea, 29, who graduated with a first class honours degree months before Rhys’ diagnosis, said: “When Rhys was diagnosed with terminal cancer it was a blow from nowhere. We couldn’t believe it. We both broke down.

“I had just started my new job as a teaching assistant, but I had to stay off work until the end of the academic year. It was a lot for us to take in.

“Rhys had been complaining about the pain in his legs for months but he thought nothing of it. He always just put it down to his job. He was working every hour God sent. We never imagined it could be something as serious as lung cancer.

“Our wedding day was the most beautiful, perfect day. Gift of a Wedding made it so special for us and we made some very special memories.”

Patricia Harrison, founder of Gift of a Wedding, said: “It was an absolute honour to plan Rhys and Rhea's wedding day. They requested a beautiful, intimate wedding day for their friends and family, which would reflect their personalities, love and commitment to one another.

"We are pleased that we were able to fulfil their wedding dream and create some wonderful memories for them." 

To visit Rhys and Rhea’s fundraising page visit

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