A DEVOTED husband who lost his wife to oesophageal cancer is campaigning to raise awareness of common heartburn symptoms which could be deadly.

Bob Millington sat with his wife Veronica in the endoscopy clinic last March, listening to the devastating news that she had advanced oesophageal cancer.

He had no idea what cancer this was at the time, nor that he and his family would lose Veronica eight months later.

Bob, from Padgate, said: "Just a year before she had seemed so fit and well, fresh from a Mediterranean holiday.

"Veronica showed great courage in her fight against this deadly cancer which caused major choking bouts, and sapped all her energy and strength.

"My wife received superb care from her consultants and the numerous nurses supporting her through the several scans, chemotherapy clinics and blood transfusions."

However, it was all to no avail and Veronica, a retired English teacher, sadly passed away on November 8 aged 72.

Bob added: "It was clear that treatment had begun much too late, as is generally the case with this form of cancer.

"Survival rates are so low because the warning signs are not sufficiently recognised and picked up earlier."

After Veronica's death, Bob set up a charity campaign in support of Heartburn Cancer UK to help raise awareness of the deadly disease.

This week, he and a small group of campaigners took posters and information sheets to staff in medical centres and pharmacies across Warrington.

They spoke with staff about the best ways to make people more aware of the links between persistent heartburn and more serious medical conditions.

This disease has a high fatality rate and kills around 8,000 people in the UK each year.

Sadly, Bob, who has lived in Padgate for more than forty years, learned all about these links himself the hard way.

He said: "I launched this campaign because I want to raise awareness so that others in my community can be more aware of the risks.

"Is it really just heartburn? Asking this question can save your life."

"My wife had been buying heartburn tablets over-the-counter as a quick fix for years, along with the weekly shop.

"She led a busy and active life and she found the tablets very effective in eradicating the burning, so what was the point in troubling the doctor about it?

"Neither of us had any idea that the tablets were serving to mask the early symptoms of the disease and that acid reflux was still wearing away at the cells of the base of her oesophagus.

"By the time that clear symptoms were picked up, this time last year, it was much too late to make any headway against the disease and that is the way it is for most victims.

"We have got to try and bring diagnosis much earlier in the process before it is too late.

"I am advising heartburn sufferers to ask yourselves the question as to whether you have come to rely on antacids to get you through the week.

"If the answer is yes, or if you are still in any doubt, book an appointment with your GP and get it checked out - it might just save your life."

For further information, or to make a donation visit Bob’s JustGiving page.