A cancer victim who started his business as a dying wish is still going strong – even after living 20 years longer than expected.
65-year-old David Rolfe believed he was living on borrowed time after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 1995. The diagnosis led him to try and fulfill his lifelong ambition of opening up Rolfey’s antiques shop in Bath, Somerset, which he assumed would at least see him through his last days.
But after undergoing over two decades of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and medication, his doctors recently gave him the all-clear – and his shop is still going strong though he is now being forced to relocate due to rising business rates and changing shopping habits.
“I have always been interested in antiques, collecting things and ‘junk’ and I wanted to end my days in an antique shop,” said Rolfe. “I did not think I had much time left after contracting cancer. I have lived for about 20 years longer than I thought I would.
“It is a job that goes on for seven days a week. I would earn more washing dishes at a pub than from this, but I love what I do.”
Rolfe opened his bric-a-brac shop in 1997, two years after being diagnosed with the rare cancer of the lymphatic system.
“My grandma used to have a stall at Birmingham market. From a young age I have been interested in this sort of thing. I remember getting started over two decades ago and I really got into it and thought, ‘this is for me’. I have never looked back.
“I could never have imagined that we would grow into being what we have become.”
Over time, his hospital appointments changed from monthly to quarterly, to bi-annually and then to once a year.
He stopped going to the hospital altogether a year ago, but added: “You never know if it is completely gone, but leaving the hospital for my last bit of treatment around 20 years after I was diagnosed with it was a good and surreal feeling.”
There was an outpouring on social media last month when he announced that Rolfey’s would be relocating due to overhead costs and utilities, but Rolfe says he has no plans to retire and is now looking for a new premises.
“The job is the best job in the world. I absolutely love it. I will not stop, I enjoy it too much,” says Rolfe. “This is not the end for me, I want to carry on.”
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