Andrew James Drake (Drakey)
28th January 1985 - 30th September 2015
Andrew (Drakey), dearly loved son, grandson, brother, husband and father, "legendary" friend and devoted Godfather, died aged 30, following a 6 year fight with cancer.
Andrew grew up surrounded by a loving family on their farm in Ansty. His love of farming, the Dorset countryside, his tremendous work ethic and his notorious sense of fun and mischief were a legacy of his childhood.
Andrew was absolutely devoted to his family. Seldom would he be torn away from the farm chores with his Dad, Richard, or his Mum, Annette's Sunday Roast. At twelve years old he was caring for his ailing "Nan" and he mowed his Gran's lawn until weeks before he died: (“Nobody else could do it well enough" he said). The warmhearted Drake household lured friends locally and afar, and along with Andrew and Becky, his sister fun and mischief was had by all.
Despite some lack of enthusiasm, throughout his education at Cheselboune, Puddletown Middle, Thomas Hardy and Kingston Maurward college, Andrew's captivating charisma and cheek left an impression on his teachers (whether positive or negative is debatable). But for fellow students he made their school experiences "a whole lot better", though not always academically successful!
Andrew worked with true passion. His customers and colleagues will remember him as not only accomplished, conscientious and quick, but that he brightened their day: "Always happy, always singing, always working".
Andrew met Rachel in 2008, "the love of his life", "his soul mate" and they were engaged in 2009.
But their plans to marry were interrupted. At the age of 24, Andrew had been fit and healthy all through his young life.
He suddenly started to have problems when eating certain foods such as bread and pasta or anything containing gluten. By this he meant that after meals he had stomach cramps or constipation or the opposite, meaning having very loose stools containing blood.
He had been working in France where of course bread was abundant and served with every meal. On his return he expressed his symptoms to his parents who suggested that he may be gluten intolerant. By omitting these foods from his diet, he felt better for a while. BUT he had also been hiding the fact that he was now constantly bleeding when passing stools.
Thinking that this was probably piles, as he had been working on tractors and piles can be a farmers’ condition, he chose to ignore it. He was also far too embarrassed even to admit this to his parents and close friends. This was his downfall!!!!
Eventually all the symptoms got too hard to handle and he had to get the courage to go to his doctor. If only he had told us earlier!
The doctor, through a simple examination, found a lump in his rectum and fast tracked him to a consultant.
A biopsy was taken and the results revealed a rare cancer that had spread through the whole of his colon/bowel, caused by hundreds of polyps. This condition is called Juvenile polyposis. Further research found that this type of cancer was genetic which meant any member of the family could also be afflicted.
Therefore, the rest of Andrews’ family were checked and his sister and father were found to have the same condition. Luckily theirs were found in the early stages and with regular checks, any polyps can be removed immediately.
Since diagnoses in 2009 Andrew underwent two courses of chemotherapy, one course of radiotherapy and an operation to remove his large colon/bowel and surrounding area where the cancer had spread.
Unfortunately, because he had left symptoms too long, due to the embarrassment he was also left with a permanent ileostomy bag in situ. He called this stoma, Steve, but on a serious note he wanted to tell his story to all teenagers and young adults that may be too embarrassed to talk about the similar symptoms they may be experiencing.
Things were looking good for a long time and Andrew seemed to have been making a good recovery from the cancer. Then, miraculously after being told it may not be possible Rachel & Andrew found they were to become parents and in April 2013 their son Lucas James was born -Andrew's pride and joy Thing couldn’t have been better.
But unwelcomely the cancer returned in a more aggressive form and a lot more surgery was needed, after more chemotherapy and radiotherapy again Andrew was making good progress in his recovery.
After all this sadly due to the aggression of the cancer in 2014 Andrew was told that his cancer was terminal. This however didn’t stop Andrews determination to live life to the full.
Finally, in January 2015 Andrew fulfilled his dream of marrying Rachel. This was the happiest day in his life. He smiled from ear to ear for days.
Drakey, "the country boy", was dedicated, loyal and dependable in good times or bad to his many, many friends. He truly was the life and soul of every occasion. Anyone who met him was enchanted by his open, sincere and happy self. His generosity of spirit (and of course his amazing cakes) were overwhelming.
His love for life and loyalty for his friends, family and his want to make a change to the awareness and support toward cancer were rewarded when ITV’S Alan Titchmarsh, his team and some of Andrews friends completely transformed and redesigned his garden at home for Andrew, Rachel & Lucas to enjoy with family and friends in the time left. Andrew loved it but in his normal selfless way was just happy Rachel and Lucas had something to enjoy and be comfortable in.
Being the inspiration and Co-founder of The Ducks and Drakes Cancer Trust is testimony that Andrew maintained these remarkable qualities throughout his long and arduous fight with cancer. Andrew always found a way to create hope and positivity out of sadness. He never lost the fight, he won -his terms, his battlefield- and was truly courageous and selfless throughout.
Andrew and his family set up THE DUCKS AND DRAKES CANCER TRUST not long after his first diagnosis with the help of close friends.
Thanks to Andrew’s determination to make a difference we are now fully fledged and our aims are to raise money for awareness via leaflets and posters positioned in all venues that youngster will visit e.g. Rugby/football clubs, pubs, schools, sports centres and colleges.
The money we have raised has also been able to fund specialist equipment and nurse training in the colorectal departments for nurses to carry out their care for patients experiencing much needed but sometimes difficult checks on all ages
Andrew just wanted anyone who is suffering in silence to get the courage to overcome the embarrassment and go to the doctor for their own survival in life. Read Andrew's poem.