Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Memories of my Nan

The thing that I love about the blog is that ultimately it is a personal thing and I can do with it as I wish. Here I almost always talk about relevant things. Ledderhose is a major part of my life and has been for years and I love helping people around the world to tackle this condition but one thing that is a hurdle for funding and research is that this condition is not life threatening and sometimes it is clear to see why that is so important. My blog would never have gotten off of the ground without the help and support of my family and friends and I have the sad news that someone that I know who read the blog a lot has passed away due to cancer.

This post is coming very soon after my Nan passing away and I hope nobody finds that disrespectful, we have known for weeks and I wanted to post this whilst it was all fresh in my mind and doing it felt like it had meaning and was a way of dealing with the emotions going through my head.

The Cancer:

Back in early September my wife and I had my Nan and her Husband over for cards, we had a lovely evening and it was great to see them getting on so well with my daughter (who absolutely loved the owl necklace my Nan was wearing "twit-twoo"). My Nan mentioned that night that she was feeling unwell and that she was booked in for some tests. Unfortunately before September had finished my Nan took a turn for the worse and had to be taken to hospital where tests and scans showed she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the cancer had spread to her liver. My Nan coped with the news really well and was brave and courageous in her battle to the end. 

Obviously cancer is never a good thing, I have been involved in cancer research and I have known several people who have had it but up until now I have never had anyone close to me die. I have been incredibly lucky and I am trying to look at it from this perspective - I have got to know all my grandparents, not just as a child but I have got to know them as a grown up and they have all met my daughter, their great-granddaughter.

My Nan was given medication to control the pain but really there was nothing that could be done. At her age there was every chance that the harsh treatments used would only make things worse. By the middle of October we were told that we were probably looking at a few months if we were lucky but that it could be as little as a few weeks. Her health had deteriorated and she was showing signs of jaundice, it is really not easy seeing someone you care about going through this and knowing you are helpless. As quick as a week later we were told it could be days and to not expect things to last beyond the next week. I called her up shortly after receiving this news basically to say that I loved her and goodbye, this was without a doubt the hardest phone call I have ever had to make but it was great to talk to her. She did not sound herself and was no longer able to walk or do the things she loved although she was in a hospice with great care.

Sadly yesterday, not even the end of October, she passed away at 5:30pm, with her husband, son and daughter (my Mum) at her side. In a way it was good that she didn't have to suffer for too long but at the same time, from a selfish point of view, it would have been nice to have longer to get used to the idea and to have seen her a few more times. The cancer was very aggressive and the deterioration was very quick.

A gummy snake like my Nan used to buy me.
The memories:
I have chosen to look back at some of the memories I have and show how often she was there with us. 

I have many memories from my childhood involving my Nan. She used to come over during the summer holidays to look after me, my brother and sister, we would always meet her in town and she would often take us in Woolworths. We were allowed to get a few sweets and I would always go for the giant jelly marshmallow snakes and if I am honest I still have a taste for them to this day even if it because of the memories as much as my sweet tooth. In fact today I went to out and got one of these for me and one for my daughter (pictured on the left) and I still enjoy them :-)

I remember going to stay with my Nan and step-Grandad at their house near the sea, listening to old sixties music with them (can't remember why but why not) and generally having a good time. They would always save up their change so that we could go down to the pier and have a go on all the little games, trying to win more money but always losing their pennies, these are times I shall always cherish. Moving on a little bit when my brother, sister and I did well with our GCSE results they treated us to different things to match who we are. I ended up on a weekend away which included my first and currently only Premiership football game, I still have many vivid memories of that day and the lengths they went to ensuring I had a good time. 

Growing up I have continued to have my family around me, I remember my Nan being with us at many important events and us being at her important events. I remember going to her wedding, going to many milestone birthdays and probably getting looks because I was in shorts even though it was a smart place and it was the middle of winter. My Nan was always well presented and you are unlikely to find a house as well kept and clean as hers.

A few years ago now, probably more like 13 or so in fact my Mum, Dad, brother, sister and I all went on holiday together with Nan and Richard to Portugal. We all stayed in a really nice Villa and although I can't remember exact details I do remember having a great holiday. I remember their bedroom got invaded by ants and someone driving along too fast on the back roads and playing loads of games and having lots of fun.

For some of my best memories though I was actually in a suit. We were all together for my brothers wedding. My Nan was with me in 2009 when I graduated from Uni, it was a really nice day and I really appreciated everyone going to the effort to come and how proud my Nan was, I specifically recall her telling me how she had told her hair dressers that she was off to my graduation and that she was looking forward to it. 

I remember the family all being together at my wife and I's Wedding day which still ranks as the best of my life, being there with everyone you love is amazing and it has been so great to celebrate so many great occasions. although a shame that it is now not possible for everyone to be there. The most recent event has been more of a journey, family is important to me and I know they can't be here forever so although really busy we have tried our best to ensure that we spend time with everyone so that they get to know our daughter. We have had a welcome to the world party, her first Christmas and a first Birthday party and my Nan has been at all of these. We have had Nan and Richard over to play cards many times and they were good times spent have fun. I just wish I had a few more pictures of Amelia with Nan and this is certainly something I plan on addressing in the future with everyone else!

As a family we are looking to do a run or walk next year for Pancreatic Cancer UK this will give us something positive to focus our emotions on as Nan will be missed.

It is hard to think that I will not be seeing her again, although not feeling great she was here playing cards only 8 weeks ago if that!!! To me Nan has always been kind, caring, helpful and willing to listen even if she was not always the most punctual. Almost every time I saw my Nan since I started the blog she has told me how proud she is of the blog and how many people it helps so I felt it only fitting that I write about how proud I am of her and how she dealt with the cancer on this blog.

I know that things in life change and this year at Christmas there will definitely be something missing but we will make sure that we try to enjoy the day in the same way as we would when she was here. Reliving old memories puts a smile on my face but thinking of all the future memories that are going to be missed is much harder to think about...

Thank you for the memories you really will be missed.

Good bye Nan.
I wanted to use a happy picture with everyone waving and this is the one that I found.