The wife of a Swindon Harriers coach who died a year after being diagnosed with incurable blood cancer has vowed to give other patients the chance he never had.

Sarah Lane Cawte’s husband Mark had been experiencing back pain for six months before he was diagnosed with myeloma in 2013.

Mark was 44 years old but by the time his blood cancer was caught, his spine was broken in two places and he died a year later, a day before his stem cell harvest.

Sarah, who lived with her husband in Haydon Wick, has now joined blood cancer charity Myeloma UK’s Christmas Appeal to give other patients the chance her husband never had.

Swindon Advertiser: Sarah has been fundraising for the charity.Sarah has been fundraising for the charity. (Image: Sarah Lane Cawte)

“It’s my way of paying tribute to Mark,” said the 58-year-old. “It’s really tough when somebody dies. Mark’s diagnosis was prolonged.

“It was a bad experience altogether and I don’t want other people to go through that. I wanted something positive to come out of a sad and difficult situation.

“The main thing is that however bad the situation, we never lost hope through Mark’s journey and I want to pass on that hope to others.

“For us and for me, the hope didn’t end, it’s experienced differently. It’s that hope I keep coming back to.”

Swindon Advertiser: Sarah's fundraising journey even took her skydiving.Sarah's fundraising journey even took her skydiving. (Image: Sarah Lane Cawte)

Myeloma occurs in the bone marrow and is a relapsing-remitting cancer so although patients can experience some remission following treatment, the disease will inevitably return.  

It currently affects over 24,000 people in the UK but it is difficult to detect as symptoms, including back pain, fatigue and recurring infection are often linked to general ageing.

Myeloma is treatable in controlling the disease, relieving the complications and symptoms it causes, and extending and improving patients’ quality of life.

Mark had seen his GP on multiple occasions but was told his nagging pain was caused by muscle strain.

Swindon Advertiser: Sarah wants to give other patients the chance that her husband never had.Sarah wants to give other patients the chance that her husband never had. (Image: Sarah Lane Cawte)

Doctors in Swindon were puzzled by the results of an MRI scan and Mark was transferred to John Radcliffe in Oxford for further tests.

By Christmas, he was dealing with full-blown cancer and he underwent radiotherapy before starting treatment.

Treatment took its toll and Mark, who had started training to be a primary teacher, was unable to resume his studies.

He was scheduled to receive a life-extending stem cell transplant in July 2014 but collapsed at home just five days before his cells were due to be harvested.

“I could see he was fading,” said Sarah.

Swindon Advertiser: Sarah has been helping the charity for years.Sarah has been helping the charity for years. (Image: Sarah Lane Cawte)

“His stem cell harvest was on the Monday, it was Saturday. We stayed overnight and some of his friends came to say goodbye.

“When you expect to spend the rest of life with someone, you don’t think this will happen, not in their 40s.”

He died the day before his stem cell harvest.

To honour Mark’s memory and commitment to Swindon Harriers, some of his ashes were scattered on the club’s track.

Over the last nine years, Sarah has been fundraising for Myeloma UK and made it her mission to raise awareness of the tell-tale signs of myeloma.

Swindon Advertiser: Mark and Sarah.Mark and Sarah. (Image: Sarah Lane Cawte)

In 2015, she signed up for a skydive and collected £4,000 for Myeloma UK and went on to abseil down the Forth Bridge in Edinburgh in 2017.

So far, she and her family have raised close to £10,000 towards vital research into treatment and a better future for the myeloma community.

“I think Mark would have been somebody who’d want to give something back,” she said.

“He would have gone into campaigning mode to try and make things better.

“I would never have been someone to take risks but when I heard about the parachute jump, I thought ‘Why not? What's the worst that could happen? The worst has already happened.”