Young Mansfield widower takes on marathon challenge in memory of his wife after a whirlwind romance, wedding and cancer diagnosis

A Mansfield man whose wife died from cancer is gearing up to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28 in his wife’s memory and to raise vital funds for a charity that supported them through it all.

Primrose Isterling, 25, from Tremeirchion in North Wales, died in 2017 after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Her husband, Tim Isterling, 27, is taking on the 26.2 mile challenge to fundraise for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.

Tim, from Mansfield, met Primrose on a night out with friends in May 2016, just a few months before she was diagnosed with cancer.

Tim said: “It was three months into our relationship when Primrose felt unwell. She was having terrible stomach pains and they took her appendix out thinking it was that. But when Prim was still unwell post-surgery, further investigations revealed it was cancer.

“It was just a massive shock. By that point the cancer had spread through her lymphatic system, so we all focussed on the best chance to give her as long as possible to live.”

Primrose was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer. She received the devastating news the cancer was terminal and the doctors gave her two years to live.

“It was like just watching a bombshell explode and everything we knew being torn apart. The first thing Prim and I did was to write a bucket list to make the most of the time she had left. Things like to go on holiday and go skiing were on the list.

“She thought about friends and her family and she wanted to do one thing with each of those people. It gave it her structure to her life and a purpose.”

Primrose started chemotherapy straight away to try and reduce the effect on the lymph nodes. She was treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust wards at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and at the Clatterbridge Hospital in Wirral.

“Treatment was really hard with ups and downs. She had serious heart problems at one point and she went onto a cardiac unit and that was really scary. But even in that moment we had some joy and memories of me, her mum and sister sneaking in a McDonalds! That’s was our Prim, always smiling. That’s when I asked her mum if I could marry her.

“I knew the whole time we would lose Prim eventually, but I would have married her anyway. To give Prim that day and to spoil her was the right thing to do – to say I am by your side and you are what matters.”

Tim proposed to Primrose at hospital in Birmingham surrounded by both their families. He said it was a special moment for her and one he will never forget. They married a year after they first met, in 2017, in Primrose’s home village of Tremeirchion.

Tim said Primrose never let her diagnosis get in the way of achieving her bucket list.

“She managed to complete all but two things on the list. She lived in such a positive way. We lived not thinking ‘we won’t do that because you might die’. In a lot of ways I’m glad we did.”

While Primrose was receiving treatment, she and her family were supported by a CLIC Sargent Social Worker who provided practical, emotional and financial support.

“Prim was offered financial support and counselling by CLIC Sargent and Rachael put us in touch with other charities that could help too. It would have been a lot harder without CLIC Sargent’s support.”

The young widower is now hoping to launch an initiative in Primrose’s honour to work locally in his home town to help improve the lives of young people and their families.

Tim decided to sign up to run the London Marathon in aid of CLIC Sargent in order to ‘give back and say thank you’.

“I’ve always watched the marathon and been a keen runner but I’m a bigger lad so it is a challenge.

“ I just keep looking forward to the finish line and that moment, just thinking about doing it for Prim and going through 26.2 miles of hard work. I can’t wait for that moment.”

Jade Clarke, Major Runs Project Manager at CLIC Sargent, said: “The challenge Tim is taking on in memory of Primrose is amazing. We are so lucky to have the support of Tim and Primrose’s family who have fundraised for us. We rely entirely on donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank Tim enough for his incredible efforts. We’ll be there on the day cheering him all the way to the finish line!”

To sponsor and support Tim’s marathon challenge, visit here.