Thames woman who lost husband to cancer in five weeks asks men to stop being stubborn

2019-06-11 21:49:08

When Rick and Gina Bates first met, the witty banter between them set the stage for a happy and humorous marriage.

She was working in a gas station in Auckland. He grabbed her attention with a bourbon and coke.

Gina made a comment about Rick's legs and it was hook, line and sinker for the pair.

Those are the memories Gina looks back on with a grin. It was the Thames couple's eighth wedding anniversary on Monday, but Rick was not there to celebrate.

Just 12 days earlier, on Wednesday, May 29, Rick died at home after a short battle with cancer.

"It was such a shock. I'm still coming to terms that he's not here... everything just feels so different," Gina said.

At the beginning of the year, Gina noticed Rick was not acting himself, but the more she hounded him about visiting the doctors, the more he dug his heels in, she said.

"In the new year, he had this little bulge on the top of his liver, but we didn't know what that was. From then on, he was going downhill, and it wasn't nice to watch."

On Tuesday after the Easter weekend, they went to Thames Hospital. Within hours they were told Rick had stage four cancer.

The cancer started at the bottom of Rick's oesophagus, and moved to his liver and up to his brain.

He died just five weeks later, aged 64.

At his funeral on June 2, the hearse was Rick's beloved 1949 Humber Pullman​ ambulance - believed to be one of only two left in the world.

"He was a happy-go-lucky person with a heart of gold. He will be kicking himself... he loved me very much."

Gina also wanted to thank the Thames community who rallied in support after Rick's passing.

Neighbours offered cooked meals and condolences, and even Cafe Melbourne in The Depot, provided her with a lasagne.

"Thames looks after their own... it doesn't matter what happens, you're made to feel welcome.

"Thames is a town of love, and they share it with everybody."

But Gina asked men in her community and beyond to stop being stubborn and visit the doctor if they were feeling unwell.

"If Rick had let me take him to the doctor sooner, it might have been able to be treated...

"So if your partner notices a difference in the way you normally are, just listen and go and have a medical. In theory, it could save your life."

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