Dad told his worrying symptoms were only indigestion dies of bowel cancer at just 45

By Staff 12 Min Read

Asa Turley’s partner Saffron is trying to raise awareness of the illness and wants people to find the courage to speak up and tell their doctor if they think their diagnosis is incorrect

A man who was told he had irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion but in fact had cancer has tragically died at just 45.

Asa Turley’s partner is now trying to raise awareness of the illness and wants people to find the courage to speak up and tell their doctor if they are concerned they have been given an incorrect diagnosis.

The dad from Churchdow passed away peacefully from secondary bowel cancer on March 21 at 5:15pm, Gloucestershire Live reports. Asa lived with his partner of three years, 38-year-old Saffron Lockey – and between them they have ten children. He was a proud father of Mason, 17 and Finley, 15, and step-father to Noah, 19, Esme, 17, Felicity, 15, Verity, 14, Joseph, 10, Dorothy, seven, and Arthur, five.

In the spring of 2022 Asa began losing weight and saw a change in his bowel habits. He had not been feeling well, and was told he had IBS and indigestion but that it “could not be too serious” as he was too young.

Asa continued to become more unwell, and on January 5, 2023, his partner Saffron, found him collapsed and unresponsive on the sofa. He had vomit down his front, which later they were told was faeces, as his body had not been able to process food or pass waste due to the blockage in his bowel.

Saffron called the ambulance service and if she had not found him when she did, he may not have survived. When they arrived to hospital, the doctor said to the couple he was almost certain Asa had a tumour, and would need surgery very soon.

Saffron is hoping to raise awareness of bowel cancer and help people find the courage to be heard if they feel their symptoms are not being addressed correctly. Asa and Saffron were told last year, if the cancer had been found earlier, it would have been potentially easier to treat.

Saffron said: “I really feel we need to raise awareness of bowel cancer as things would have been very different for Asa if he had been diagnosed sooner. He went to the doctor and was told he had indigestion and IBS. The thing is, Asa is one of these people who will only go and see the doctor if they are really unwell. He went back to the doctor as he had lost two stone, and they still did not refer him for a colonoscopy.

“Asa was told it could not be anything too serious as he was too young. My mum and I had started to question if he had bowel cancer. Asa was showing signs of having bowel cancer. I know this does not sound very nice, however Asa had breath smelling like poo, he was losing weight and had diarrhoea, which are all signs. My mum works in palliative care, and she was going to appointments with Asa. We knew something was not right, and mum knew he was not too young to have bowel cancer.”

Asa was diagnosed with bowel cancer when he was taken to hospital following his collapse in January 2023. Saffron found him collapsed on the sofa in their home, and he was rushed to hospital, where tests were ordered to see why Asa was so poorly.

Saffron said: “It was the morning of January 5 and Asa woke up and went downstairs. I got up soon after and walked into the living room and found Asa collapsed and unresponsive, covered in faecal vomit, on the sofa. I called an ambulance straight away, and the paramedics took him to hospital. I waited for my mum to arrive to look after my disabled son, and then I followed Asa to the hospital.”

Asa was assessed by the medical staff at the hospital when he arrived. Saffron was then able to speak to a hospital doctor about how poorly Asa had been over the past eight months.

Saffron said: “I spoke to the doctor about Asa and the symptoms he had and being so unwell. The doctor said to me, he could not be 100 per cent certain, however everything I had told him, including Asa having breath smelling like poo, he was sure Asa had bowel cancer. The doctor said he would put his mortgage on it.”

Asa was fitted with a nasogastric tube and an emergency CT scan had been ordered. The scan had confirmed just how poorly Asa was and the next morning, he was having surgery. Saffron said: “The scan confirmed Asa had cancer and the next morning he was taken for a seven hour operation to have it removed. The doctor said he was not sure if Asa would make it through the operation as he was so emaciated, and still he did, and also ended up having a colostomy bag fitted.”

Asa had a round of chemotherapy and a scan in the spring following the operation. Asa was told the cancer had spread to his peritoneum. Then Asa was having immunotherapy every two weeks. This worked temporarily, but in December Asa was told the illness had come back. He had developed small tumours in the stomach area, and the immunotherapy was no longer working. Saffron fundraised to pay for Asa to have private care and treatment as options on the NHS were limited. The illness overwhelmed Asa, and he passed away.

Asa was a much loved son, raised by Bev and Kieron and also son to Andy. It has been said Asa made his brother Kane look like the sensible one too. Saffron said: “Asa was a fantastic father and step father. He was proud of his son Mason’s determined spirit, and of Finley’s talent in MMA. He loved working at GT Window Products with his cousin Carl Taylor, and Andy Groves, Wayne Hurdman, Neil Morrison, and Christine Fagan. He loved going for a Burger Star with his friend Ryan and putting the world to rights.

“Asa loved Formula one and documentaries about the SAS or the police and he was particularly pleased when the Cheltenham police were on Channel 5. Asa loved to be loved and was the most reliable person in the world. He loved his family, friends, his cats and he loved me. Not a day went by that he didn’t make us feel that love. He will be missed terribly.”

How to spot signs of bowel cancer

According to the NHS website, the symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and do not always make you feel ill. More than 90 per cent of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

Constipation, where you pass harder stools less often, is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions. The NHS adds that most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer.

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