Emmerdale's Tony Audenshaw and Bob Hope comp image

Emmerdale star Tony Audenshaw on ‘unfair’ death of his wife at age of just 43

She passed away in 2017

Tony Audenshaw, best known for his Emmerdale role as Bob Hope, lost his wife Ruth in April 2017.

Ruth was just 43 when she passed away from pancreatic cancer, having been diagnosed two years earlier.

Tony has opened up about his sad loss before and regularly campaigns for early diagnosis.

Last year he raised vital funds for pancreatic cancer research by cycling 100 miles around London.

Tony Audenshaw talks on This Morning about his wife's death
Tony was left heartbroken by Ruth’s death (Credit: ITV)

Tony Audenshaw reveals his wife’s ‘grim’ cancer diagnosis

Appearing on This Morning in May last year, he opened up about his challenge to hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.

Speaking of his late wife, he said: “She was a really fit person, she ran, she cycled and it was part of that that masked the symptoms in that her urine was very dark and it could have been dehydration.”

He said the doctors thought she had a urinary infection, but she then started to turn yellow. She had been concerned it was pancreatic cancer.

“With pancreatic cancer, over half the people die within three months of diagnosis. It’s been the case since the 70s it’s really been left behind regarding funding.”

Speaking of the moment they found out, he said: “It was pretty grim. I was an optimist expecting it to be a benign tumour.

“But the doctor said in no uncertain terms: ‘it’s cancer’.”

Tony Audenshaw looks serious talking about his wife on This Morning
Tony Audenshaw did a charity bike ride last year to raise vital funds for research in honour of his late wife (Credit: ITV)

Life-saving surgery

They were told the cancer couldn’t be operated on, but she got a second opinion and eventually travelled to Germany for surgery.

Tragically, Ruth had the operation and the tumour was removed, but the cancer had already spread.

“Part of the thing when you have surgery is you can’t have chemotherapy for a little while because it kills the good cells as well as the bad cells,” Tony revealed.

“So while it was all clinging together, some cells had got loose and it was quite devastating because it was probably two months after the operation, we found out it had spread already.”

The couple decided to live life “like they were retired” and embrace the time they had left together.

Tony has since thrown himself into various physical challenges to raise money for research into the cancer in order to achieve early diagnosis.

Tony said: “What the charity are working on is an early diagnostic test and they need more money for research.

“If you can catch it early and it’s at the head of the pancreas, it won’t wrap itself around and then they can operate.

“It’s about seeing it early, getting the op and then moving on.”

Tony plays Bob Hope in Emmerdale (Credit: ITV)

What has Tony Audenshaw said about wife Ruth’s illness previously?

Tony has spoken about her death in the past and called her illness “unfair”.

Tony and Ruth were married for 24 years and had two children together – George and Em.

Ruth battled pancreatic cancer for 16 months before passing away.

Tony recalled the heartbreaking moment she was told during a hospital visit she had only months to live.

He told The Mirror in 2017: “I remember being very quiet as we walked to the hospital car park, then breaking down in the car. Before we worried about forgetting to put the bin out. Now Ruth was going to be dead within a year after a horrible illness.”

Tony added Ruth’s condition seemed especially cruel as she, a cognitive behaviour therapist for the NHS, had always been health conscious.

He reflected: “Her death seems all the more unfair as she did not smoke, and kept fit by running.”

The couple even met during an aerobics class in 1993.

But after Ruth with diagnosed with stage three adenocarcinoma, they had to break the awful news to their children.

“We spent loads of time together and that made us even closer as a family,” Tony added.

Tony later addressed the nature of his grief on TV
Tony later addressed the nature of his grief on TV (Credit: YouTube)

Tony’s grief

Over a year later, in January 2019, the ITV soap star spoke about how he lives with his grief.

Tony said during an appearance on Loose Women: “I really miss Ruth.

Grief is not linear.

“Grief is not linear. It goes up and down.

“I grieve, go to work, keep busy.”

He added, recounting the hard conversation he and Ruth had to have with their children: “I think talking about things is really important.

“And talking about things after Ruth was gone, and having things written down to remember what her wishes were helps.”

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Robert Leigh
Freelance writer