The trouble with being involved in a cancer charity, either as a patient or a volunteer is that you lose your mates to this disease.
RIP to the lovely Alison Helen whom I met through the BBC (beating bowel cancer) forum and in real life. Her rapid decline and quick death came as a terrible shock to many of us and her energy seemed so undimmed even to the end. I keep crying because I keep wanting to talk to her and the gap where she used to be is still very sore. It must be awful for her family.
It is hard to explain to people who do not use forums etc just what an amazing job Alison did in reaching out to strangers around the world dealing with bowel cancer. She was extraordinarily kind and supportive.
And very few of the people who benefited from her help will have realised how much medical trouble of her own she was dealing with at the time. Her surgery, her chemotherapy, her repeated stoma blockages, her fall and rib fractures, the delays with the specialists, misleading promises, to name but a few of the things she was dealing with over the last two and a half years.
She was always so stoical about it all and never sought pity for herself. Even this year, when things have deteriorated so quickly she scarcely gave her forum buddies any clues as to the gravity of her situation. A shame, really, because one thing with cancer, you do get warning of the end, and can make sure your loved ones know how much you love them. I would have liked the chance to be more explicit to her about the high esteem we hold her in.
I think she DID know. I hope she did. Let part of her legacy be that all the special people in your life DO know how much you value them. Never be afraid of saying 'the last goodbye' too soon.
RIP to Alison Mitchell whom I first met in the Macmillan forum, and cherished as a wise and wonderful poet and also as someone who had survived bowel cancer for many years. I think in the end she managed 10 years.
RIP to two of my friends who were in chemotherapy with me in the Nuffield but who both died before Christmas last year. Both of them had had this disease for a year or two before I met them and I always thought they were inspiring because the soldiered on with repeated treatments and stayed alive ... for then at least . But no longer ...