A mother has described how her husband died just six days after he was diagnosed with a deadly disease that started with pins and needles.
Phillipa Anders, 52, said her 18-year-old husband, captain Rob Anders, 49, “didn’t stand a chance”.
She and her two children, Nell, 17, and Will, 16, from Rendlesham, East Suffolk, are still coming to terms with their loss in December 2021.
Rob started first show symptoms in Autumn 2020 while based in Portsmouth after serving in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary for 30 years.
During the daily trips home, the Deputy Commodore – deputy head of the entire fleet – complained to Phillipa that she was tingling.
He initially attributed the symptoms to stress, but Phillipa began to worry when Rob’s tingling and pins and needles started affecting his arms and face in December.
Phillipa drove to Portsmouth to take him to the emergency room at Ipswich Hospital in Suffolk.
He was admitted and an MRI scan revealed a 7-9 cm mass in his brain, which was confirmed to be grade 4 terminal glioblastoma On the next day.
It causes weakness in the limbs or difficulty grasping, headaches, blurred vision, speech problems, and seizures.
Rob was given to live from 12-18 months due to the nature of the aggressive form brain tumor.
He was due for urgent surgery the following week to remove part of the tumor before receiving palliative chemotherapy.
Phillipa said: “Rob just went into panic mode.
“He was looking for life insurance documents, pension things. His whole focus was where we would be financially.
“I just went into coping mode. At that point, it was all about doing everything to make Rob comfortable.
“When I saw this big, brilliant, capable person scared and anxious and unable to do routine things for himself, I just couldn’t think of myself. only to him.
“When I dropped Rob off at the hospital, he was out talking.
“When I picked him up days later, he couldn’t walk and was in a wheelchair. He couldn’t even really speak and was so confused. Also, he had lost a lot of weight in just a few days.”
The four of the Anders family spent the weekends together in bed, reading, watching TV and filming.
Then, the night before his scheduled surgery, Rob was wriggling in bed next to Phillipa.
At first she thought it was concern about the surgery, but eventually she called 911, who told her to take him to the emergency room immediately.
The whole family drove to the hospital but the kids couldn’t get in so Rob told them he loved them and would see them soon.
Within half an hour of arriving at the hospital, Phillipa was standing by her husband’s bed when he turned a strange color and made a strange noise.
Paramedics rushed in, resuscitated him, and Phillipa was sent home.
It was later confirmed that a cyst, even larger than the tumor, was also present in the back of Rob’s brain, causing pressure that had caused a seizure.
Rob’s wife and children assumed Rob’s surgery would continue and they would see him again the next day.
But that evening the hospital called and asked Phillipa to return as soon as possible.
Word reached her that her husband had suffered another two hour seizure and tragically nothing more could be done.
At 1:30 a.m. on December 22, 2020, Phillipa sat next to her late husband.
Recalling the moment, she said: “It was almost beautiful.
“Rob was unconscious but I was told he could hear me.
“So I sat next to him in a private room on this very quiet ward. No beeping, no machines, just us, a large cup of tea and a box of tissues.
“I told him how wonderful he was and really believed he could hear me. I sat there and held his hand and then he was gone.”
Rob died at the age of 49 just six days after his diagnosis.
One day dad couldn’t walk and the next day he couldn’t speak. He began falling over regularly, which he turned into a joke by crawling across the floor.
Shortly after his death, Phillipa received a text message from Nell, who had not yet been apprised of the seriousness of the situation.
Both she and her brother had “felt” the moment their father had died.
Phillipa said: “I didn’t speak to the children while I was in the hospital. I saw the message from Nell, but things at the hospital have overtaken everything else. I just remember my heart sinking.”
Nell recalled the moment her father died: “I was at home in the shower trying to distract myself and my stomach just fell out of nowhere.
“Will came in and said he felt the same way.
“I said, ‘Do you think Dad just died?’ and he said ‘yes.’ We text Mum and he had’.”
Nell, who was incredibly close to her father, watched his alarming decline in less than a week.
She said: “One day dad couldn’t walk and the next day he couldn’t talk. He began falling over regularly, which he turned into a joke by crawling across the floor.
“We could all see that he was clearly embarrassed about what was happening and it really ate me up inside
“The conversations went from Dad saying we’d all be fine to ‘You’ll all be fine,’ just a few days later. He knew what was happening and that it wasn’t looking good.
“It was only after his death that we realized how much everyone valued him.”
Rob’s death came just months after his remarkable achievements with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary were recognized by the royals.
In March 2020, he was awarded an OBE for leading a hurricane rescue mission in the Bahamas.
Phillipa said: “Rob hated being seen as a hero. He said the OBE should have gone to the ship, not him.
“Even so, he has helped so many people in his life. Now by sharing what happened to him, I hope he can help even more.”
Phillipa met Rob in 2002 and within a year they were married and a year later their daughter was born.
The romantic Rob became known as ‘the flower man’ in Phillipa’s work as he sent huge bouquets of red roses every week during his months at sea.
In August 2021, Rob’s standing in the military community was honored with an Ashes At Sea ceremony, where his remains were placed off the coast of Weymouth.
Phillipa said: “Everyone told us how nice Rob was.
“All these people that we had never met came to us to tell us how much Rob had touched their lives. It was a really nice day.”
After receiving invaluable support from The Brain Tumor Charity following Rob’s death, the family have raised over £18,000 for them.
Around 12,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor in the UK each year, according to The Brain Tumor Charity.
For more information, see thebraintumourcharity.org
The symptoms of a brain tumor
The most common warning signs of a brain tumor are:
- changes in vision
- nausea or illness
- loss of taste or smell
- Mental or behavioral changes, such as memory problems or personality changes
- Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8574522/my-husband-complained-pins-needles-died-six-days-later/ My husband has been to doctors for needle sticks