Hull dad Alan Wheeldon told he is dying on eve of wedding to soulmate Joanna
A FATHER-of-three found out he was dying just weeks before he walked down the aisle.
Alan Wheeldon was told he had the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which has no known cure, just three weeks before he married his soulmate Joanna.
Doctors explained a lung transplant could buy him time but that he may not live to see his children grow up.
The Bransholme couple, who have three children together, are now asking Mail readers to sign an e-petition calling on the Government to introduce a better service and faster transplant referrals for IPF sufferers – many of whom die before a suitable donor can be found.
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Alan, who married Joanna at St James' Church in Sutton in August, said: "I've gone from being one of the fittest 46-year-olds I know to someone who gets out of breath so easily – I just don't have the energy I used to.
"I had a CT scan and the doctors at Castle Hill Hospital said it was serious, it was terminal, there was no cure and I'd need a lung transplant.
"We didn't know what it was so we went straight home and googled it – which was probably a bad idea.
"Telling the kids was the hardest part."
Alan had suffered from a persistent cough but attributed it to working in cold temperatures.
The Howden Joinery supervisor then saw the NHS advert on TV, which said that a prolonged cough could be the sign of lung cancer.
He went to get it checked out, only to be told he had IPF.
Joanna, 36, said: "With cancers, there are some cures for some types and there are lots of things they can do to treat it.
"But IPF is much worse because the life expectancy is so short and there is no cure.
"I still haven't accepted what is happening – whenever I talk about it, I get emotional and break down."
After the diagnosis, the couple – who are parents to Courtney, 14, Alan, 12, and Ellie, 11 – were determined to carry on with their wedding.
They had a traditional church wedding in Sutton before their family rallied round to pay for their honeymoon in Cyprus.
When they returned, Alan had a biopsy on his lungs in October, the results of which he will be given on Monday.
The results will explain further how far on the IPF is and give Alan a better picture of what his treatment will be in future.
He said: "It is the waiting that is the hardest thing.
"The specialist said with it being IPF, the waiting is longer.
"If it had been cancer, I would have had the results in perhaps a week or a bit longer. Cancer gets preference over everything else."
Joanna and Alan have sought solace on the internet and found a support group on Facebook called Pulmonary Fibrosis UK.
One of the members, Malcolm Weallans, has launched a petition to the Department of Health.
It says: "We want the Government to ensure that all patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are assessed for lung transplant within the first year following diagnosis.
"Too many patients are dying waiting for a transplant."
• Follow this link to the Government petitions website to sign.