Reading about King Charles and his cancer diagnosis I wanted to write about something that’s not antiques-related unless I’m the antique! 

Here’s a word to anyone concerned about themselves or a loved one and about a very frightening word, CANCER.

If you pee too much or have night sweats, get fatigued, have blood in your poo, pains and bruising or just feel out of sorts, please listen. You are NOT being tough by ignoring it.

Most of the time it’s probably an infection, but if it goes on, seek medical help.

If no one listens, whether it’s your partner, friend or the GP, nag them until they take it seriously. Jump on it like a villain and give it no quarter.

Witney Gazette: Andrew Blackall

In 2016 I was sharing retail space in Petworth, West Sussex with fellow antique dealer Paul Martin when my health took a serious nose dive.

My GP had fobbed me off and suggested my symptoms meant I was depressed. I had night sweats, fatigue, poo problems and one of my dogs kept coming up and sticking their nose in my side. Animals seem to know. I was so frustrated by my GP not taking my ill health seriously. I felt worried and concerned but not depressed.

I had an inkling something was seriously wrong. I raided my savings to see a consultant in London who immediately organised an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. The following morning he rang me to tell me I had a large tumour in my colon. It was cancer. Two weeks later I underwent T-section surgery. It was Carcinoid cancer that had spread from my appendix into my colon and surrounding lymph nodes and it was larger than an orange.

I can’t fault my care after that. From nursing staff to consultants, radiologists to physiotherapists they were all brilliant. My follow-up has been exceptional.

It’s now 2024. Maybe it will get me in the end but I’m a lucky man to have had another eight years. They haven’t all been easy, but I’ve worked, travelled, met some amazing people, made new friends and most of all I’m still here.

Then in 2019, I underwent abdominal reconstruction following an incident with a scaffold lorry on the M4. These things happen and once again I went through a whole process of surgery and recovery.

All credit to those in the trade who have shown me kindness and support throughout. Thank you to dealers Graham Cork and Paul Martin, and to friends and family who stuck by me. As an antique dealer, what the trade does well in times of crisis is pull together and help its friends.

Times in the trade are unpredictable right now and as dealers, we all know that illness is even more unpredictable.

It’s so refreshing that King Charles has spoken about his diagnosis. Cancer must lose its stigma. I read a headline questioning whether, following his diagnosis, King Charles could work anymore. This is where I get angry.

Things happen in life we must all take on the chin. Yes, it hits you like a brick, but then you get used to it and for many, the outlook is many more years. 

Be strong, be proud, don’t ever feel ashamed.

Andrew Blackall is an English antique dealer with more than 30 years of experience selling period furniture and quirky collector's items to clients across the globe. He has written and produced award-winning film and television productions. He was born in St John’s Wood, London and he grew up in and around London. He currently lives in Avebury, Wiltshire. His love of antiques stems from an early fascination with history and from visiting country homes throughout old England and the British Isles. Many of Andrew’s clients are well known on both sides of the pond, patronising his ability to source antiquities with provenance and appeal. His stock has appeared in a number of films and TV shows. Andrew has two styles of business: one selling high-end decorative antiques at The Blanchard Collective, the other selling affordable collectables at The Malthouse Collective.