Friends and family of a Queensland carpenter are in mourning after the “loving and caring” 23-year-old took his own life following a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Dave first revealed he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer to his 22-year-old partner, Hanna, about two years ago, she told Yahoo News Australia.
He underwent some treatment but spoke very little about what he was going through, choosing to keep it private even from family and close friends.
While it is unknown if he entered remission, Hanna, who lived with Dave near Brisbane, said he appeared to continue to struggle with symptoms, such as throwing up on occasions.
The 22-year-old became very concerned when Dave said he was feeling weak and urged him to visit the doctor.
In November, when Dave told her he didn’t want to return to his beloved job, she and his mum “dragged” him to get an endoscopy to examine his digestive tract.
Following the procedure — which took place on the couple’s one-year anniversary — Hanna said her “blokey bloke” asked her to drive him to a flower shop, where he bought roses to scatter around their home.
“He set up all these roses and tried to surprise me even though he’s just gotten out of the hospital,” she said.
However, just a few weeks later, the young couple’s promising future took a massive turn.
In early January, days before his birthday on the 10th, Dave was told his cancer had spread from his stomach to his liver and lungs.
Doctors scheduled him for surgery on February 21, but reportedly told him he probably wouldn’t survive until the end of the year, with or without the operation.
Hanna told Yahoo News Australia she urged Dave to talk to her about what was going on, but he would simply say “I’m no good”.
“That was his way of telling me,” she said.
“Even to all of his friends, he didn’t say that he was terminal.”
Carpenter takes his own life
On February 3, Dave and Hanna finished up their seven-day isolation period after the latter tested positive for Covid.
Hanna said she told Dave she was going to run a few errands but that they should go watch the car drifts — a favourite hobby of theirs — that night.
“He said ‘I’m going to go for a drive anyway’,” the 22-year-old said.
Not long after arriving at the shops, Hanna said she received a text message from Dave “saying his goodbyes”.
“From that moment I was like something is not right,” she said, adding she then called his parents and urged them to ring the police.
Officers asked Hanna what her boyfriend was last seen wearing and where he might have gone. She called his friends and begged them to tell her if they were with him.
Soon after, Hanna got a call from her neighbour telling her police officers were breaking into her home.
Dave’s body was found inside. He had taken his own life. The 23-year-old left a card for Hanna.
Dave remembered as a 'loving and caring' man
Dave has been described by loved ones as an incredibly hard worker who “lived and breathed carpentry and his 4WD”.
He also loved to drink beer and spend time with his dog, who he called Princess Soph, and Hanna’s two cats.
“Between Soph and the two girl cats, we’d all end up in the bed together at the end of the night — it was a full house,” Hanna said, adding Dave was “definitely a stubborn boy” who was “so loving and caring at the same time”.
Hanna, who has since moved out of the couple’s home, is now working with Canteen to create a fundraiser in Dave’s honour.
Canteen provides support to 12-25 year olds who have been diagnosed with cancer or lost a loved one to cancer.
Hanna said she wished Dave had known such help was available and he could have connected with others who were going through the same thing as he had been.
A GoFundMe has been created to help support the 23-year-old carpenter’s family and pay for his funeral.
Hanna shares moving tribute to Dave
On the outside, people knew you to be a “top bloke”, a gentle tradie, a shit stirrer but overall someone that would always give your time to help, no matter the time or the day. On the inside you were affectionate, you were soft, you were comforting, emotional and you would always be there for me no matter what.
You were so loved, by so many, your friends, your workmates, people from the pub, neighbours, mechanics, randoms on the street even, but most of all your family and your princess Soph (pet dog)... she was the luckiest puppy in the world, she had the best life and she will never ever forget you, because you are so special. I promise you, I will do my best to look after her and keep your family close to me.
“Mr fix it”, was something I would often relate to Dave, no matter where we were he was either working, helping someone, building something or working on his car, but without a doubt he would have a beer in his hand. Dave lived and breathed “Chippy” work and he was so proud of that. He would never say it, but actions spoke louder than words. Early mornings and late nights you would find him working.
I am beyond grateful to have been a part of Dave's life. My Angel, now that you have left us, you have taken a large piece of my heart that I’ll never get back. My body aches everyday not knowing when I will see you again. I am going to miss you and your smell, I’m going to miss that deep contagious laugh, I’m going to miss taking your glasses off your prickly face every night when you’d fall asleep, to then roll under the freezing room but being in your warmth felt like home. You always told me home isn’t a place, it's a person, and I feel homesick.
I know you are around me, I still feel your presence. So... it is only goodbye for now.
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