Despite being given just days to live, an RAF military serviceman and father of two from Burnley is continuing to raise vital funds for Pendleside Hospice where he is currently receiving palliative care for terminal bowel cancer.
Shahbaz Saleem (27) was diagnosed in November last year after taking part in a charity climb of Mt Snowdon in Wales having just returned from a four-month tour of Dubai, presenting himself with abdominal pain in A&E.
The father-of-two, who has been in the RAF for nine-and-a-half years since joining as an 18-year-old, underwent emergency surgery to remove a colonic tumour, but sadly it had already spread to the lungs, and after unsuccessful chemotherapy, he was told that his cancer was incurable.
“The doctors have given him days not weeks,” said Faraz Saleem, Shahbaz’s brother. “He’s mentally fine, even though he’s emaciated and on opioids to keep the pain away.”
Infinitely grateful for the care he has received at Pendleside, Shahbaz is dedicating himself to fundraising for the hospice and has raised over £4,300 in less than four days.
“Pendleside Hospice have shown him so much compassion,” said Faraz, himself an ex-military medic. “Before anything happens, he wants to raise as much money as possible to show his appreciation.
“I’ve seen the look on his face when I told him him how much it’s going up by every time, and this is the only thing that’s keeping him going and happy at the moment.”
With two young daughters, the focus for Shahbaz has always been staying strong for his family. “His spirits have always been up and when he was diagnosed he was very positive; he’s never once broken down,” said Faraz (36). “Put myself in that position and I’d be in tears. I’ve never once seen him cry.”
“He’s one of these people who’s always trying to do the best for others.”
In the meantime, Shahbaz is determined to show his appreciation to Pendleside Hospice and to remain strong for his children. “We’re just trying to highlight his plight for his fundraising - that’s the only thing he’s talking about,” said Faraz. “I told him that, whatever happens, we’re here as a family for his two children."
Shahbaz’s JustGiving page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Shahbazsaleem.