By Jess Grieveson-Smith
A terminally ill dad has completed his £40,000 bucket list in a bid to create a lifetime of memories.
Richard Preston, 49, was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumour – known as a glioblastoma multiforme – in 2013 and was given just 10 months to live.
But the dad-of-one refused to give up even after enduring a five and half hour risky operation and 11 months of gruelling chemotherapy.
He has since visited over 15 countries and even married his partner of 25 years, Wendy, 48, after realising his time was running out.
Richard’s bucket list was completed in last July and despite his future being uncertain, he’s delighted to have fulfilled all of his lifelong dreams.
The former technical specialist, Waterlooville, Hampshire, said: “I used my inheritance from my mum to fund the £40k trip.
“It all started with a slight headache in the back of my left eye so I initially they just thought I needed glasses.
“But when the pain continued for two weeks, I was sent by my doctors for further.
“After scan, they firmly told me I wasn’t going anywhere – I had the most aggressive brain tumour and it was likely to grow back even if it was removed.
“It was worrying but my outlook has always been, if you can’t fix it don’t worry about it.
“In all of this, I’ve been so lucky, I’ve never any pain, just headaches.
“I didn’t bother looking up my symptoms online or stressing myself out.
“Instead I proposed to my girlfriend of 25 years, and organising the wedding distracted me.
“We began the bucket list straight away because I had told myself, I’ve got to do this now before it’s too later.”
Refusing to let his grade four tumour – the worst possible diagnosis – pause his life, the couple have travelled as far as Hawaii and are determined to make every moment count.
Richard added: “We first went on a cruise round central med – now, we’ve been to Germany, Italy, Hawaii, Spain, China and have just added Cambodia and Vietnam to that list.
My best memory by far was the week I went to Hawaii and a volcano had just erupted – it had always been my dream to see lava.
“We booked a helicopter over it, saw it all bubbling – it was amazing.
“Now my scans are yearly – I’ve lived for five years more and I’ve got to celebrate five years with my wife.
“I’m lucky – I know I’m still terminally ill but all I can do is hope for no more growth.
“At the moment, my brain is technically cancer free but doctors know it will grow back as it’s so aggressive, it’s just a case of when.
“We had a party to celebrate my five years – because it’s five years more than what I was expecting to have.
“Everything I do, everywhere I go now is a bonus – a second bucket list.”
Now preparing for his 50th birthday in March, an incredible five years on from his diagnosis – Richard, along with wife Wendy Preston, made it their mission to travel the world again after their lavish wedding.
Richard added: “Only 20 per cent of patients diagnosed with a tumour as severe as mine live past five years, but I’m showing no sign of slowing down.
“The photographs are treasured memories and show how far I’ve come.”
Richard is working with the Brain Tumour Research charity to share his story ahead of national brain tumour awareness month in March.
Hugh Adams, the charity’s spokesman, said: “We have great admiration for Richard’s positivity and are extremely grateful to him for sharing his inspiring story which gives hope to others and drives us on to continue our work to highlight the issues around brain tumours and funding groundbreaking research in order to improve treatment options and, ultimately, find a cure.
“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.”