One of the first things that Inspiration for Life did was to publish our founder Tim Richardson’s diary of his cancer journey, which you can buy here. We are sharing lots of other cancer stories here, so that there’s a rich variety of experiences (good and bad), outcomes (good and bad) and individual responses to draw upon, which may be helpful if you are affected by cancer, directly or indirectly. No one else’s experience will be exactly like yours, but we hope that there will be things that speak personally to you, that inform, encourage or inspire you, and that make you feel less alone on your journey.
South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire Cancer Alliance – Patient Stories
The Cancer Alliance is working to implement a different model of cancer care in the region. It involves senior leaders, clinicians and colleagues from across the local NHS, local authorities, voluntary and charitable organisations, and national teams. They’re giving space to the stories of people affected by cancer, so that the organisation – and others – can learn from these experiences, and that learning can improve things for other patients in the future.
Everyone responds to news of a cancer diagnosis in different ways. For Greg Hallett [the youngest brother of Inspiration for Life’s chair, Cath Annabel] who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in July 2018, it compelled him to write, and he published a collection of poetry and prose inspired by his battle with cancer:
Faith has always been a fundamental part of my life and now as I journey through tough times, my relationship, love and trust in God is stronger than ever, despite everything.This collection explores my emotions, hopes and fears – it is my raw expression of everything i have experienced and felt.
A hunger and a thirst: A journey of faith with cancer is just out, and available from Amazon at £12.99.
Greg died on 2 February, at home with his family as he had wanted. Two of the poems from this collection were read out at his funeral service. The family have been raising funds for the Shakespeare Hospice, in his memory.
Megan Blunt shared her story of being diagnosed with bone cancer when she was 14 via the Bone Cancer Research Trust. She also worked with CLIC Sargent to create a booklet, Chemotherapy, Cakes & Cancer (An A to Z guide to living with childhood cancer), which can be downloaded free from the CLIC Sargent website. Megan is fully recovered now, and has gone on to work with a number of cancer charities to help improve things for children and young people with cancer. Her booklet is funny and frank and full of helpful information and ideas, and we hope that it will be useful for some of you.
Rachel Bland’s death from breast cancer made headline news because as a journalist she used her media experience to talk very directly about her cancer diagnosis and treatment through a blog and podcast.
Ellie Jeffery, another journalist, also documented her experience through a blog, Written Off. Since her death in 2012, her fiancé and friends have set up a charity, Ellie’s Friends, now merged with Maggies, which sets out to give people with cancer something to lift their spirits through freebies (donated gifts of products and services).
James is sharing his experience of cancer diagnosis and treatment through his blog
Maryam is originally from Iran, and came to Sheffield to do her PhD in the department of Physics & Astronomy. After she moved to the USA to work, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013.
This was her story at the time of the 2018 24 Hour Inspire.
My cancer is spreading and metastasis to my liver, stomach, hips and etc now. It is stage 3c. My cancer was started from May 2013. After a full hysterectomy and 6 month chemotherapy I was cancer free. Then I checked my blood test every 6 months. But unfortunately from last summer my tumor marker in my blood test started to be elevated again. I did different types of therapy these last months but they didn’t help.
About one month ago my CA125 blood test which is an indicator for ovarian cancer was 213. However the normal range is less than 35. And my doctor changed my medication again. But last week I had more pain for few days and I went to the emergency room. They did a CT Scan and they found that the cancer is spreading and my tumor elevator is 500 now. So I need to start chemotherapy very soon and maybe I will need to do surgery as well.
Maryam finished her chemo in July 2018, and until very recently had been well. She worked at the University of Central Florida until January, when she and her husband moved to a different state. She’s in a much better position financially than she was a year or so ago, when money worries were a huge burden on top of her health concerns.
Her latest news, however, is heartbreaking. The cancer is back. Inspiration for Life can’t help Maryam practically or medically – but our support can still make a difference.
As I know that you and other people think about me , I can have more positive energy.
September 2021 Update
Sadly, Maryam’s journey is over now. At least she is at peace, after travelling for so long on this desperately hard road. The cancer kept coming back, and she kept trying to find new treatments but about a month ago she was told that there was nothing more that could be done, and so she went home, to Iran, to be with her family at the end. All of us who knew her, and who kept on hoping that there would be a happy end to this story, remember her with love.
A number of these stories have ended with family members and friends having to go through the agonies of bereavement. Camille Johnson’s website aims to provide advice and guidance for those who are grieving. She writes from personal experience, and hopes that some of our supporters may find the blog helpful.