Bowel cancer sufferer, 48, claims he’s now the happiest he ever was after quitting chemotherapy. To make the most his last days, he plans to throw a death party with friends dressed as Grim Reaper.

  • Russ Pegrum 48 from Waltham Abbey hosts a “death party” this Saturday
  • The terminal form of bowel cancer has left him with a few months to live. 
  • Friends and relatives will dress up in Grim Reapers costumes, while Russ will sport a skulls shirt.

A cancer patient with just months to live is planning his own grim reaper-themed ‘death party’ this weekend and say he’s the ‘happiest I’ve ever been.’

Russ Pegrum, 48, from Waltham Abbey, Hertfordshire, will have beer and pizza at his unusual ‘wake’ this Saturday, with family and old school friends due to dress up in grim reaper costumes.

To make the most out of his final days, this former factory worker who had been diagnosed with bowel carcinoma in 2018 quit chemotherapy.

Doctors say he has just months to live – and Russ, who has a 9cm tumour, doesn’t know if he’ll reach his next birthday in March.

Russ Pegrum, 48, from Waltham Abbey, Hertfordshire, who was diagnosed with Bowel cancer in 2018, was told in September that there was nothing doctors could do to help him. He decided to quite chemotherapy and to plan his own 'wake,' which will take place this Saturday

Russ Pegrum of Waltham Abbey in Hertfordshire was recently diagnosed with Bowel cancer. In September 2018, he was told that doctors couldn’t help him. He chose to stop chemotherapy and plan his own “wake,” which will be held this Saturday 

But Russ said that he is ‘the happiest I’ve been’ after organising his own wake and even picking out a coffin for his funeral.

Russ said: ‘I’ve called it my “death party”.

‘It sounds a bit morbid but it’s making light of it and having a bit of fun.

‘I’m wearing a shirt with skulls on it. A friend bought a grim reaper costume.

While he admitted some people might find his 'death party' morbid, Russ said it is just a way of making light of his fate

Russ admitted that some might find Russ’ ‘death party’ morbid. However, he said it was a way to make light of his fate. 

After being diagnosed three years ago, Russ lost 27kg during his chemotherapy treatment. He was in remission in March but the cancer has since started spreading again

Russ had been diagnosed 3 years ago and lost 27kg in his treatment. Although he was declared in remission by March, the cancer spread again. 

‘I’ve got people coming from school days and people I haven’t seen for 30 odd years.’

Russ’ cancer went into remission in March but it returned three months later and he restarted chemotherapy.

In September doctors advised Russ that he could not continue his treatment. He decided to stop the therapy, saying that he was’staring at walls at home’.

After chemo, he lost 27kg and needs to be able travel far distances in a wheelchair.

Russ lives with his parents, Brenda, left and Laurence, top right, pictured. The cancer patient wants his loved ones to dress as grim reapers for his wake

Russ shares his home with Brenda (left) and Laurence (right). For his funeral, the cancer patient wishes his family to be grim reapers. 

Pictured: Russ playing pool. The 48-year-old now needs a wheelchair to cover long-distance journeys

Pictured is Russ at the pool. For long-distance trips, Russ needs to be able to use a wheelchair. 

Pictured: Russ hat a Halloween party. He has said that planning his own funeral has given him 'peace of mind'

Pictured is Russ wearing a Halloween costume. According to him, arranging his funeral gives him peace of mind. 

Russ who lives in the same house as Brenda and Laurence said that after a month, he felt 100 percent better.

‘Since quitting chemo I’ve learnt to enjoy my life. These were some of the most joyful months in my life.

‘Planning a funeral is a fairly unusual experience but it’s given me peace of mind.

‘I’ve picked out the coffin and music, and written my own eulogy. This was a very pleasant experience.

‘When the time comes everything will be how I’d like it to be.’


Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel or colon cancer, affects the large intestinal tract, made up of the colon, rectum, and stomach.

These tumours are usually formed from polyps (pre-cancerous growths).

These symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from below
  • Stools with blood
  • Changes in your bowel habits that last at least 3 weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Pain in the abdomen

While most cases don’t have any clear causes, there are some people who may be more vulnerable if they do: 

  • More than 50
  • A family history is required
  • A personal history of having polyps found in their bowel
  • Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s are common.
  • Living a poor lifestyle  

The treatment usually includes surgery and chemotherapy.

Nine out of ten people diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer live for five years after being diagnosed.

It is more common in the later stages. 

Bowel Cancer UK statistics show that more than 41,200 British are diagnosed each year with bowel cancer. 

The National Cancer Institute estimates that it is estimated to affect around 40% of the US’s 100,000 adult population each year.