Inspiring fight supports Chemo Appeal

Anthony Grills (right) joins fund raiser Julie Whitton, Bray Leino Events staff Rich Warrell and Jes

Anthony Grills (right) joins fund raiser Julie Whitton, Bray Leino Events staff Rich Warrell and Jess Walker to unveil the £1.85million total on the Chemo Appeal Thermometer outside North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple. - Credit: Archant

Anthony Grills from Bideford with a moving account of how his battle against ‘the big C’ provided inspiration for the North Devon appeal.

THE inspiring story of a North Devon cancer patient is being used as a rallying cry for the final push of the Chemotherapy Appeal.

Dad of two an Anthony Grills, aged 34, has been fighting cancer for 19 months with a courage, strength and determination that has awed medical staff and fund raisers.

With Christmas just around the corner dad of two Anthony’s story shows why, now more than ever, North Devon is being urged to pull out all the stops to raise the final £300,000 to get the appeal total to its £2.2million goal.

“We are so close to our goal now and Anthony’s story is really the best possible example of why this appeal is so important,” said fund raising manager Ian Roome.

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“In his own words, it is a powerful testament to the desperate need for a dedicated state-of-the-art treatment unit for local patients.”

It was in a small dark room on the haematology ward at Barnstaple Hospital that Anthony, from Bideford, was told he needed intensive chemo treatment for acute leukaemia.

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“The ‘big C’ had not only come knocking on my door, but it had smashed the doors off its hinges, life had just changed for ever,” he said.

“I was a 34 year old dad of two, aged five and one, living with my partner of 18 years Louise. Life was good, I worked hard and played hard. I ran my own construction company which was growing rapidly.

“Living with an aggressive cancer is like being sentenced to death for a crime I simply didn’t commit. It’s truly gut wrenching.

“They tell you that it’s very important not to make any promises to your children that you can’t keep. Then that dreaded moment came ‘Daddy are you going to die?’

“‘I’ll try my hardest not to princess’ was my reply. That moment my heart broke into two.

“The first few months were easier, but then my bone marrow crashed, and I spent months in intensive isolations fighting infections. In total the intensive treatment lasted 14 months, I was treated in Barnstaple, Bristol, Plymouth, but mostly on the Yarty Ward at Wonford (Exeter).

“Never once did I ever think that I couldn’t do this battle. I just turned up where and when I was told and got on with it. I knew this would last for months so I just took it one day at a time.

“I’m a very black and white kind of person, and it was clear in my mind from the off. Dying is the easy part, in my eyes you just go to sleep and never wake up. The hard part is for those left behind.

“18 months on, and I still have 18 months to go of maintenance chemo treatment, but my life is slowly getting back to normal, whatever that is! My princess is seven and is growing into such a wonderful person, and my little man is now three and perfect in every way. I love them so much it hurts.

“I smile first thing in the morning and last thing at night because I’m still here with them.”

Anthony and his family have already given a great deal back to the NHS he is so thankful to for saving his life, raising almost £5,000 to date through a variety of events.

You can read the full story in his own words at or on the Chemo Appeal website.

To make a donation or organise your own event in support of the appeal, call Julie Whitton on 01271 311772, email or visit

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