Wendy’s story

I’m no stranger to cancer. My mum died in 2014 of lung cancer after a long illness. It took over our lives for a year. I went through various feelings during this time. Sadness, desperation, love, anger to name a few. What I wasn’t prepared for was the numerous hospital appointments whilst I was trying to work at the same time. If it wasn’t for Dean my partner, I wouldn’t have coped. He did all of the chemo trips, spent time with her making beads and watching old musicals in the day. I dealt with her desperate calls in the middle of the night. I never wanted to see this disease again. Unfortunately, that’s not a choice.

My dad was diagnosed with throat cancer, followed by lung cancer (possibly a result of working with leaded paint as a painter and decorator). He also had skin cancer due to working outside and no sun protection when he was younger. He was the bravest man I’ve ever known – his health was also blighted by a brain tumour, double heart bypass and clot in his neck. Each time, he recovered, so courageous, so positive. My hero. He passed three years ago during Covid. I’d had enough of this disease.

So, in October last year, when my dear friend Sue Fisher was called back after a routine mammogram, I remember thinking that it was just a blip. She’s in her early 50’s, healthy and my friend. Our friend. Her and Rob and me and Dean do a lot together. We plan loads of stuff. She’ll be OK, I thought. I was wrong. Some time later, she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Here we go again. Me and Dean felt absolutely useless. How could we help? What could we do? Dean found his spot in taking Sue for her chemo, we provided a haven when Rob got Covid and she’d got her mastectomy coming up. We are still trying to help, we still feel a bit useless, but we are determined to continue to support both of them. Our plans were on hold – for now.

Fast forward to February this year. We love having Eileen, my Dad’s long term partner, my “step mum” over to stay with us at weekends. We take her places as we enjoy time with her. I’d taken her to Dagfields Craft and Antique Centre for a mooch around. “Let’s have some lunch” I said. As we started to tuck in, she told me that she had breast cancer. You’ve all seen the advert where the person is told they’ve got cancer and their legs buckle – it was just as well I was sitting down. NO!  NO!  NO!. So, two people we care about, now battling this horrific disease. Dean started his trips to hospital again – what would I do without him?

And then there’s Jenna, one of our Strategi family members – her mum is diagnosed around the same time. Jenna’s pain on her face was familiar. Three family members at the same time, the same thing and people we care so dearly about.  It’s been tough. It’s been tough on the Strategi Team and they’ve all been brilliant.

But you know what? If it wasn’t for the care of UHNM, for all of the above, life would be very different. Why raise money for the NHS you may be thinking. Well, it’s fundraising that makes the care that bit more special. When you’re spending hours at the hospital, a comfy chair or a nice bright painting makes the world of difference. Not once has Sue, Jill or Eileen complained about how they’ve been made to feel. Because at times like this, it’s not just about treatment, it’s how you’re made to feel.

We had to do something. We had to give something back for all the care we’d received because, all three women are getting better. They have all had different treatment but they’re all progressing well. When we hear the stats that one in two of us will get cancer in our lives, what we’re not told is how many survive. According to Gov.UK the survival rate of people with cancer in the first year after diagnosis is 74.6% of the general population. That’s because of research, treatment and care.

There is hope. Not everyone is the same. All treatment is different – but the care is special.

That’s why on 20 October 2023, we will be celebrating their lives and we will be sharing their stories on how they stood up to cancer, got on with it and benefited from the fantastic support at the UHNM Breast Care Centre.

If you can’t book a table, perhaps you could send us a raffle prize or sponsor our champagne reception. Anything you can do will help us help the next Sue, Jill and Eileen.

Thanks for reading.

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