A healthy dad-of-seven died just months after he received a shock cancer diagnosis where doctors had to remove 90 per cent of his tongue.
Alan Birch, 37, did not drink or smoke and lived an active lifestyle before he was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2018.
The dad, from Moreton, Merseyside, underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy and had 90 per cent of his tongue removed as he battled the disease.
But the cancer kept returning and specialists told the family the heartbreaking news there was nothing more they could do.
Alan died in April this year and his wife Debbie McDonough is now bravely speaking out about his illness in the hope it will save lives.
Speaking to The Echo, Debbie said: “I would urge people to always keep on top of their dentist appointments as they are the ones who notice the warning signs for mouth and tongue cancer.
“Always be careful of ulcers especially if you have them longer than two weeks, and never think you are wasting an appointment if you are worried about anything. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Just weeks before his death, Alan and Debbie married in a moving ceremony attended by family and friends.
The much-loved dad was described as a fun loving, confident man but the treatment took its toll.
After two major surgeries on his tongue and cancer treatments, socialising became a major issue for Alan as he felt nobody could understand him.
He could not longer enjoy the foods he once loved and everything had to be liquidised.
But despite knowing he only had a short time to live, the tradesman accepted his cruel fate with courage and dignity.
The cancer also had severe mental health implications for Alan and meant he could no longer follow his trade, prompting friends to rally round and set up a crowdfunding page for the family.
More than 150 people attended his wedding to Debbie this year when Alan’s illness was already so far advanced, he had to remain seated during the ceremony.
Loved ones watched on in tears as they were moved by the service.
Tributes flooded in after the news of Alan’s death with condolences to his “lovely wife and beautiful children.”
Chantelle Hughes said: “Fly high, you put up a good fight, you gave it your all. Watch over your lovely wife and beautiful children. We will take good care of them till we meet again, fly high mate.”
November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and early detection in a bid to combat the disease.
Mouth cancer causes more deaths per number of cases than breast cancer, cervical cancer or melanomas.
The disease is twice as common in men than in women, though an increasing number of women are also being diagnosed.
If detected early, the chances of survival are greatly improved.