GREG Gilbert knows that there is no miracle cure for his cancer.

It’s one of the huge adjustments that he’s had to make since discovering late last year that ongoing stomach pains were bowel cancer, and that the cancer had spread to his lungs.

He and partner Stacey Heale are now very different people to the couple who asked how long he had to live when they were told the devastating news last winter.

They hit the headlines when Stacey launched a fundraising campaign to pay for lifesaving treatment not available on the NHS, which has already raised more than £200,000.

“You think there’s going to be a one-off super treatment but that’s not the case,” says Greg, an artist the lead singer of Delays.

“It’s about living with cancer, not dying from it. There might be a treatment that works for a couple of years and then it won’t be effective, by which point, hopefully there will be something new available.”

Greg is currently enjoying a three month break from treatment, following a far more successful response to chemotherapy than anyone had hoped for.

He is not cancer free; no tumours were visible in his last scan but he has been told that there is a 99 per cent chance that they will grow back.

But today, as we chat in a Southampton cafe, the sun in shining, Greg feels well, and they are making the most of life.

“Being diagnosed was like the ultimate exposure therapy – it smashed through everything in one moment,” says the father of two from Bitterne Park, Southampton.

“It was like someone cleared away all the clutter. Everything is heightened.”

Greg had been unable to gig prior to being diagnosed, not just because he was very unwell, but also because he had been struggling with anxiety and panic disorder. Now, he says, that has gone.

“For me, it was the understanding that the future is promised to nobody,” adds Stacey, a lecturer at Southampton Solent University, who is currently a full-time carer and mother to Dali, three, and Bay, one.

“When you get rid of the future from your head, all you’re left with is now,” she adds.

“That’s the essence of mindfulness. We’ve always meditated and this is like the ultimate meditation, because you’re living in the moment, thinking ‘isn’t this a lovely cup of tea, how beautiful are those flowers,’ so you’re savouring every moment.”

“I’ve learnt so much about myself and other people in a short space of time,” adds Greg.

“I am a more positive person than I’d realised. The things I’m talking from this are far more positive than the negatives - maybe because the negatives are so overwhelming, they’d crush you. I see a lot to feel grateful for.”

The couple feel they are connecting more deeply with their own feelings and with those around them.

This has seen them be brutally honest about things they are struggling with, not only in terms of Greg’s health but also Stacey’s difficulties in finding herself a full time carer of a sick partner when she also has two very young children to look after.

In newspaper and television interviews, social media posts and updates on the Give for Greg fundraising campaign, Stacey, in particular, has exposed herself in ways that she is the first to admit she used to avoid.

“You’re laying yourself bare, but for me, that’s been a necessity,” she says.

“It’s about reaching out, because one of the things that cancer patients and carers feel is loneliness. I suffered pretty bad post natal depression after the birth of Bay but I’ve realised that I did a very good job of letting people think I was OK, and that was a bit mistake.

“There’s freedom in saying ‘I’m really scared and I don’t know what to do.’”

“It comes from a sense of time,” says Greg.

“We’ve been made so acutely aware of transience, so you become more aware of when you’re messing about or drifting along.

“It feels like the only thing that has any worth are the absolute truths. There’s no time to swerve and express platitudes - what’s the point?”

One of the things that’s helping Greg to make the most of life is that he now feels better than he has in years.

“The pain was so debilitating,” he says.

“I was eight stone when I went into hospital - just a notch above malnutrition. Now my energy is getting back to normal and I can do things like playing with the girls on the living room floor.

“These rough and tumble moments are so bonding, and I’ve been like a fragile little bird to my girls for most of their lives.”

Bay and Dali have become at once a source of joy and melancholy for the couple.

“If I think about the girls in connection with this, it just breaks me,” says Greg.

“I’m kind of pulled from pillar to post of the normality of ‘oh, my god, she’s just thrown her food all over the floor, how annoying,’ to the sense that we have to relish every single moment of family time that we possibly can,” adds Stacey.

“You’re pulled back and forth and that’s quite mentally and emotionally draining - it’s the extremes.

“Something else that’s really hard is that we can be doing something really normal and I will suddenly start to think ‘is this going to be a memory?’ It’s almost like I take a snapshot of the moment in my head.

“And when I take photographs of Greg with the girls, there’s a weight to it.

“It feels like there should be some emotive music playing when we’re doing the most mundane thing, and it’s hard to live like that.”

“I’ve had that with the girls,”adds Greg.

“Very early on, I remember playing with them and thinking ‘is this going to be their only memory of me?’

“You have to switch your train of thought, even if that means play acting for the first few minutes.

“I don’t want to spend my time with the girls being overly aware of everything I’m saying,” he continues.

“I want to make the situation a normal thing.

“I read that every parent fails, and we have to accept that we’re not going to be perfect in this situation.”

As they take stock of life in this break in treatment, the couple muse on the early days following Greg’s diagnosis.

The conversation returns to the fundraising campaign, which helped thrust the couple into the spotlight.

“I’m a massive control freak and so much control had been taken away by the diagnosis,” says Stacey.

“That’s part of why I started the fundraising campaign. I felt like I had to get some control back.”

“I hadn’t yet processed the reality of the situation myself, and it was all going so fast, there was a part of me that wanted to go and shut myself in a cupboard for a while, but I knew this was Stacey’s coping mechanism, so I kept my mouth shut,” says Greg.

“My main concern with the campaign was that Stacey was going to be disappointed. I never thought we were going to raise anything. I looked at it in the way I’d looked at her doing her MA at art school, and I just really wanted it to go well for her.

“I never considered the reality of what money was going to be raised - then, god, the outcome of it!”

The couple cannot speak highly enough of the NHS but say that the money raised has opened up the option for lifesaving treatments that have to be paid for privately.

“So many people would give anything to have that,” says Greg.

“I don’t feel capable of expressing enough gratitude, because it takes so much energy to respond.

“It’s been a strange up and down year for us, and globally, politically, but we’ve definitely seen the good in people.”

“It’s so weird that there are so many positives to come out of a terrible situation, but there are,” says Stacey.

“If I can get my health on an even keel but retain the mental changes I’ve undergone, it would be a positive development in my life,” adds Greg.

“The illness has changed me in ways that I’ve wanted to change, but have struggled with, so I wouldn’t want to go back to how I was before. You have to be like a shark and keep moving forward.”

* To make a donation to Give4Greg, visit