MUM reveals how her husband passed away six days after he was diagnosed as having a fatal disease that began with pins & needles.
Phillipa Anders, 52 years old, stated that Captain Rob Anders was her husband of 18-years. “didn’t stand a chance”.
They are still trying to come to terms with the loss of their children in December 2021.
Rob, who had been serving for 30 years in Royal Fleet Auxiliary, first began showing signs in the autumn 2020.
During daily calls home, the deputy commodore – second in charge of the entire fleet – complained to Phillipa of pins and needles.
He initially put the symptoms down to stress, but Phillipa started to worry when Rob’s pins and needles started impacting his arms and face in December.
Phillipa drove down to Portsmouth to take him to A&E at Ipswich Hospital in Suffolk.
A MRI scan of his brain revealed a mass measuring 7-9cm in size. It was diagnosed as terminal grade 4 glioblastoma.
It can lead to weakness or difficulty grasping the arms and legs, headaches, vision changes, speech problems, seizures, and vision problems.
Rob was given 12-18 Months to Live due to the nature and aggressiveness of his brain tumour.
The following week, he was scheduled for urgent surgery to remove part of the tumor. He also received palliative chemotherapy.
Phillipa said: “Rob just went into panic mode.
“He was looking for life insurance documents, pension stuff. All his focus was on where we’d be financially.
“I just went into coping mode. The goal was to make Rob feel at ease.
“Seeing this big, brilliant, capable person terrified and anxious and not being able to do routine things for himself, I just couldn’t think of myself. He is all I can think of.
“When I dropped Rob at the hospital, he was walking, 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. He’d also lost a huge amount of weight in just days.”
The Anders family spent their weekend reading, watching films, and reading together.
Phillipa was lying in bed next to Rob the night before his scheduled surgery.
Initially, she thought it was worry about the operation, but she eventually called 111 who told her to take him to A&E straight away.
The entire family drove to hospital but the children could not come inside. Rob said that he loved them all and would be back soon.
Within half an hour of arriving at the hospital, Phillipa was beside her husband’s bed when he went an odd colour and made a strange noise.
Phillipa was sent home by the Medics who quickly arrived.
It was later confirmed a cyst even larger than the tumour was also present in the back of Rob’s brain, causing pressure, which had brought on a seizure.
Rob’s wife and children assumed Rob’s surgery would proceed and they would see him again the next day.
Phillipa was then contacted by the hospital and requested that she return to her unit as soon possible.
When she arrived at the hospital, she was informed that her husband had suffered a second seizure that lasted for two hours. There was no way to save him.
Phillipa, her husband, died on December 22, 2020 at 1.30 a.m.
Recalling the moment, she said: “It was almost beautiful.
“Rob was unconscious. But I was told that he could hear me.
“So I sat beside him in a private room on this very quiet ward. We had a cup of tea, some tissues, and no machines.
“I told him how wonderful he was and truly believe he could hear me. I sat there holding his hand and then he was gone.”
Rob died just six days following his diagnosis.
One day Dad couldn’t walk and then the next day he couldn’t talk. He would fall over quite often and then he would laugh at it by commando crawling across a floor.
Phillipa received a message from Nell shortly after his death. He had not yet told Phillipa the gravity of the situation.
Both she and her brother were married. “felt”Their father’s passing was the moment they knew.
Phillipa said: “I didn’t speak to the kids whilst I was at the hospital. I saw the message from Nell but stuff in the hospital overtook anything else. I just remember my heart dropping.”
Recalling the moment her dad passed away, Nell said: “I was in the shower at home trying to take my mind off things and my stomach just dropped out of nowhere.
“Will came in and he said he’d felt the same.
“I said, ‘Do you think Dad just died?’ and he said ‘Yeah.’ We text Mum and he had’.”
Nell, who was extremely close to her dad watched his alarming decline over less than one week.
She said: “One day Dad couldn’t walk and then the next day he couldn’t talk. He would fall over every day, and then he would laugh at it by commando crawling on the ground.
“We could all see that he was clearly embarrassed by what was happening and that really ate me up inside
“Conversations changed from Dad saying we would all be ok, to, ‘You will all be OK’ just a couple of days later. He knew what was happening and that it didn’t look good.
“It was only after he died that we realised the regard everyone had for him.”
Rob’s death came just months after his remarkable achievements with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary were recognised by royalty.
He received an OBE in March 2020 in recognition of his efforts in leading a rescue mission in the Bahamas following a hurricane.
Phillipa said: “Rob hated being thought of as a hero. He claimed that the OBE should have been sent to the ship and not to him.
“Still, he helped so many people in his life. Now, by sharing what happened to him, I’m hoping he can help even more.”
Phillipa met Rob in 2002. They were married within one year, and their daughter was born a year later.
Romantic Rob is now known as “the flower man” at Phillipa’s work, as he would send huge bouquets of red roses every week during his months away at sea.
In August 2021, Rob’s standing in the military community was marked by a Committal of Ashes at Sea ceremony, where his remains were dropped off the coast of Weymouth.
Phillipa said: “Everyone was telling us how kind Rob had been.
“We had all these people we’d never met coming up to tell us how much Rob had touched their lives. It was a really beautiful day.”
After receiving invaluable support from The Brain Tumour Charity in the wake of Rob’s death, the family have raised over £18,000 for them.
According to The Brain Tumour Charity (UK), around 12,000 people are diagnosed each year with brain tumors.
See below for more information thebraintumourcharity.org
A brain tumour is characterized by symptoms
The most common warning signs of a brain tumour are:
- Vision changes
- Nausea or sickness
- It can cause loss of taste or smell
- Mental or behavioural changes such as memory problems, personality changes or personality changes can cause mental or behavioral changes.
- Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body