This is the first in a series of Cancer Q&A’s we are doing at Resolute. We’d like to sincerely thank Will for sharing his experience with us.
Will sadly lost his wife Caroline to Cancer but has bravely given us a very honest account of his experience of having a loved one with Cancer.
It was an emotional read for me as someone who knows Will and I’m sure it will be a humbling and perspective-shifting read for anyone with a partner they can’t imagine life without.
PART ONE: THE CANCER
Q: When and how did Cancer first become a part of your life?
A: In January 2015 my girlfriend Caroline (now wife) was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Q: What treatment did your loved one have?
A: Caroline went through a large operation to remove a mass in February 2015 , then had a recurrence a few months later. She then went through two cycles of chemotherapy which were unsuccessful, then the maximum amount of radiotherapy which also wasn’t majorly effective. She then had a second operation to remove the mass in October 2015 which sadly was also unsuccessful. She passed away in December 2015.
Q: What would your advice be to someone with a loved one that has been diagnosed with cancer?
A: The best advice I could give to someone with a loved one that has been diagnosed with cancer would be…just be there. Be there whenever possible. The hospital meetings, the treatment, the tears and the pain. As in between those difficult moments there is life. There are memories, laughter, joy and these are the most important moments. My proudest achievement in my life has been the fact that I was with Caroline from the very beginning, to her very last breath, and in those 11 months we shared more than a lifetime of love.
Q: Do you think enough is being done to find a cure?
A: One thing I have learnt about cancer, or should I say had to come to terms with, is that on the whole cancer is a very tricky disease to cure. The main reason being is that fact that us as humans are all different, as is cancer. A cure for one person may well not be the cure for another with the exact same type of cancer.
I am sure that one day the cure for cancer will be found, that day will be a great day, a wonderful achievement for the human race, but also one that will also be filled with immense sadness for so many.
Q: What charities (if any) have you or your loved one connected to or used?
A: Without doubt Macmillan Cancer Support. They supported Caroline and myself throughout the whole process, they provided a nurse that was our main contact from the beginning to the very end and they continue to support me. The appreciation for their knowledge and guidance should not go unnoticed.
I would also mention The Eve Appeal, which is a fantastic charity specifically for Gynaecological Cancer Research and also Jo’s Trust which is an organisation for Cervical Cancer that provides information, support and also friendship.
PART TWO: THE EXPERIENCE
Q: What was it like for you, when you/ your loved one got their diagnosis?
A: To be honest my world crumbled when Caroline was diagnosed. To see the one I love, my soul mate, be so scared and upset pushed me to the very edge. All I wanted to do was take the disease instead of her.
During the whole process we always said how we could never do what one another was doing though. I was always so hugely impressed by Caroline strength and determination regardless of the difficult situations we were put through and she always said she could never be the carer I was for her.
Immediately after the diagnosis I felt sick to my stomach. The thought of what we were about to have to go through was overwhelming. I was also angry. I felt a huge amount of disbelief and I didn’t understand why this was happening to Caroline. Why did she deserve this and for or some reason I also felt guilty.
But shortly after those initial feelings I knew I had to be strong for her. I had to be the one to rise above the negativity and push on. To get through this we needed to be a team. We were one. We were a circle.
Q: What was the wider effect of cancer in your friends/family?
A: That’s a very difficult question for me to answer. The effect of cancer on me has changed my life forever. There isn’t a minute that goes by that I don’t think and miss Caroline. I long to be united with her once again. She was my everything. My sole mate and truly one of the most incredible people I have ever met. It’s taken a long time for me to even be able to answer these types of questions, as the grief is still very raw for me, our families and our friends.
The positives are hard to see at the moment. Caroline and I are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderfully close family and an incredible group of friends, I guess one positive is it has brought us all even closer together. The loss of Caroline hurts us all, but we now respect and understand that life is so short and can be cut even shorter in a heartbeat.
Q: If you’ve witnessed someone going through cancer treatment what did you notice about their attitude?
A: Caroline’s attitude was incredible. Before she was diagnosed she was a determined woman, but I have never seen someone fight so hard. Her strength and grit was superhuman. To be knocked down so many times and continue to bounce back, pick herself up and go again was a true testament to her character.
Even though she lost the fight in the long run, if it wasn’t for her strength and amazing attitude, her cancer would have taken her long before the day she died. Her biggest sign of strength came toward the end.
She fought so hard that a week before she passed away we managed to get married at the Royal Marsden in London.
She used every ounce of her strength on that day. It was the last day she was Caroline and I can’t thank her enough for giving me the best day of my life.
Q: What’s the effect of cancer been on your outlook on life?
A: My outlook on life is now very simple, I live to try and make Caroline proud.
Q: Has cancer changed the way you look after your health?
A: Yes, cancer has changed the way I look after my health. Before Caroline’s diagnosis we were a healthy couple, we ate right and exercised regularly. Since Caroline’s death thing naturally slipped.
In the first few months it was difficult for me to even get out of bed, sometimes it still is. I didn’t really have a diet, if I ate anything that was a bonus. In April of last year I started to turn things around, using exercise to help the bereavement process.
I have found that it is incredibly important to try and exercise daily to try and bring some kind of structure back in to my life, the old saying, ‘healthy body, health mind’ really rings true for me.
The heather I am, the better I seem to manage with the bereavement process. Also the knock on effect is wanting to eat healthier foods and drink water like its going out of fashion!
PART THREE: RESOLUTE
Q: When did you first hear about Resolute?
A: I heard about Resolute from Callum Toms, brother of Jordan. Callum and I were work colleagues within the film industry (taught him everything he knows).
Q: If you feel a connection with the idea of Resolute can you tell us why?
A: I do feel a connection to Resolute, I was deeply moved by Jordan story. He was going through treatment at the same time as Caroline and showed the strength and determination required to battle and then recover from cancer.
Q: If you have been involved with Resolute why did you decide to help?
A: I decided to help Resolute because I love the concept. Everyone has their own journey, their own mountain to climb, whether it be beating cancer, recovering from a disease or illness or in my case dealing with a bereavement. Our struggles are all different but together we must continue to keep working at being alive.
Q: Finally, can you tell us one positive effect cancer has had on your life?
A: One main positive that cancer has had on my life may sound like a strange one for me to say; but it has shown me how lucky I am.
I am lucky for many reasons, my health, my family and my friends, but it has really shown me how lucky I am to have met Caroline, and so fortunate to have spent so much of my life with her, all be it too short.
Please give some love and respect to Will and Caroline for both fighting so hard. Respect shouldn’t come from winning the fight it should come from someone deciding to fight at all. That’s human spirit.
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