Home » Man conceals the fact from his wife for 21 years that she is terminal, and keeps her alive with experimental drug

Man conceals the fact from his wife for 21 years that she is terminal, and keeps her alive with experimental drug

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Rosie and Melvin on their fiftieth wedding anniversary — © rr

A British man concealed from his wife for 21 years that she had terminal breast cancer. Only at her funeral did he confess everything to the family. All the while, he kept his wife alive with an experimental cancer drug.

Melvin Gelp from London receives a phone call in 1999 with hard news: his wife has terminal breast cancer. The surgeon on the other end of the line says that there is no other option than to start palliative care. Melvin can’t believe it. “A death sentence. I almost collapsed,” he told Daily Mail.

His wife Rosie is standing next to him at the time of that phone call. When he hangs up the phone, Melvin decides to lie. He says that the surgeon has not yet been able to make a diagnosis, and that investigations are continuing. Why he lies? Rosie’s four sisters have already been diagnosed with cancer and are suffering greatly from the disease. He does not dare to break the news to his wife that she is terminal.

(Read more below the photo)

The couple on their wedding day, in 1953. — © rr

Rosie knows something is wrong. She has an operation performed to remove some lumps. She is also offered radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but she refuses. Rosie doesn’t want to lose her hair right before her grandson’s bar mitzvah. But most of all: she doesn’t know how close she is to death. Instead of chemotherapy, she receives daily radiation at a local hospital, which is less invasive.

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“Like a god”

Meanwhile, Melvin searches for a way to save his wife. He stumbles across a medical pilot project online just half an hour from their home. The research is led by Jefferey Tobias, a renowned oncologist who, according to Melvin, is “praised like a god” by his colleagues.

Tobias tested the drug Anastrozole in the late 1990s. This is currently administered to women with early-stage breast cancer and metastatic cancer. It lowers estrogen levels, which are a source of nutrition for some tumors. Rosie is admitted as a test subject.

It soon becomes clear that the medicine works. Rosie continues to take the medicine, serving as a test subject for Tobias to find any possible side effects or swelling. She does not realize that she escapes death in this way.

In 2021, Rosie dies at the age of 90 after kidney failure, 21 years after her ‘death sentence’. Only at the funeral does her 95-year-old widow admit what he has done all those years. The family reacts in shock. But somewhere there is also understanding. “Although it was incredibly risky, it reflected the love he had for my grandmother,” Melvin’s grandson said. “He would have done anything to protect her and keep her safe.”

Doctor Tobias is also present at the funeral. He is thanked profusely for all the work he did to keep Rosie alive.

Rosie just before her death. She was 90 years old.

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