Share Your Story
Hearing about others' experiences can be helpful when dealing with death and bereavement. Do you have a personal experience that you'd feel comfortable sharing with the campaign? If so, let us know...
To begin, I should say that I lost Col in April 2008 after a three year battle with stomach cancer. I loved my husband dearly, and we found a deeper love over the time of his illness, as well as the frustrations, anger and other conditions that seem to become a part of the disease. He endured major surgery to remove almost all his stomach, chemo and radiotherapy, alongside many other brave people who have cancer, and always put on a brave face. Inside he must have been very afraid.
Colin was tall but not a heavily built man, and enjoyed his food very much, so it was awful when he could only eat a little because of the operation. I felt for him so much, and cried many times in the silence of the night.
He said nothing tasted the same, and he constantly had an awful taste for the first six months or so. The weight loss he had endured meant the heating was on in the summer months, and I would have to go outside for some air. Then he would apologise for being a pain. Never a pain, I said, a very brave man, and very handsome and sexy! Don’t know where you are looking, he said.
Our last holiday in 2007 was to Spain, his favourite place, and he wasn't well for a good bit of the holiday. He had been getting an awful lot of pain and been back and forth to the surgery. The doctors finally found it again in January 2008 after alot of messing around, The cancer had hit the pancreas and they put Colin on the aggressive type of chemo. He was just four weeks into a nine-week course when he died. Col got septicemia, went into hospital on the Monday and, by Wednesday, was gone.
Apart from in the ambulance going to the hospital when we were able to talk a little, I only got one more chance: I managed to say to him I love you, and he said the same back, and that he had got my text message. We just thought he was a bit low, no one told us he would die, no one had said to us he was dying! Indeed, when seeing the consultant Col asked was he dying and was told just think positive. Col said if I get another couple of years I'll be happy - and the consultant said nothing. If people ask, and are really wanting to know, those being questioned should tell the patient. Maybe they want to make arrangements, or do a favourite thing.
I cremated Col. I hadn't been able to discuss these things with him, he had always said I don't care where I am as long as we are together. We thought we had longer, and to be truthful had no reason to suspect he would die. No one had said anything to us to make us think he would. We talked a lot me, and Col, but when it came down to it not at the end. He was too ill.
The Dying Matters Coalition is led by the National Council for Palliative Care,
the umbrella charity for end of life care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Freephone 08000 21 44 66