Mikes Ducks go for a walk and a bicycle ride
In May 2018 I am walking 10 miles on the MidNight Walk and will also be cycling 60 miles throughout Suffolk to raise funds for St Elizabeth Hospice.
St Elizabeth Hospice is a fantastic charity and one which has become a huge part of my life in the last few years. I started to work for the Hospice in December 2013 as a Fundraiser and I absolutely love my job. I feel I am able to give something back to so many local people who are living with progressive and terminal illnesses. Not only do the Hospice care for the patients but they also consider the needs of the family members and friends of the patient as well. It really is a wonderful place to be a part of and one I am so grateful for on a very personal level.
In May 2016 my husband Mike and I welcomed our first child into the world. Our daughter Hope was born and she was such a blessing to us both. We had looked forward to being parents and our future lives together as a family.
Mike was a Primary School teacher and he loved his job. His relationship with the children he taught was always so positive and he impacted upon so many lives in his profession. Mike was always very active and sporty. He was a player manager for Sporting 87 Football Team in Bury St Edmunds and he played 5 a side Football during the week as well. Most weekends he enjoyed a round of golf and in the summer months he would also play cricket. Sport was his passion and he also enjoyed participating in running, swimming and cycling.
In March 2016 we were enjoying a family meal together as it was my Sisters birthday. Mike asked me to check a lump on his neck as he wasn't sure what it was. My heart sank as it didn't look like an insect bite or anything I had seen before.
Mike visited the Doctors and they said it was most likely an infection due to stress. We carried on with life and after having a newborn baby we both were pretty tired and adjusting into being parents. It wasn't until June when Mike was playing football when he noticed lumps in his groin area, initially Mike thought it was a Hernia. He went straight up to the Hospital and they carried out various tests. However, it wasn't a hernia we were dealing with as most of Mikes lymph nodes on his chest were up as well as others on his neck. You couldn't help but notice the lumps around his throat. Mike continued Teaching and playing sport regularly. On the last day of the School summer term Mike had a biopsy taken from one of the lumps on his neck and a week later when Hope was only 10 weeks old we received a phone call to say the results were in.
Mike was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) which is an incredibly aggressive Leukaemia. The day he was diagnosed were given 20% chance of survival for Mike. Our world came completely crashing down after hearing these words.
Mike was admitted into Ipswich Hospital that afternoon to start Chemotherapy immediately. He responded well to treatment and went into remission in the October/November. We were feeling relatively optimistic about the future but knew it was all incredibly uncertain as the chances of relapse was so high.
Mike wrote and published an online daily blog which he found really helpful as he spoke about what was happening to him in terms of treatment, how he was feeling as the side effects were intense and he also spoke about his faith as he was a Christian and this was a huge part of his life.
In a routine Bone Marrow sample it picked up that some of Mikes cells were mutated. This meant that his body wouldn't recognise if the leukaemia came back and it wouldn't know how to fight it. Because of these cells it was recommended to Mike that he should have a bone marrow transplant to have any chance of long term survival. The Bone marrow transplant had huge risks in itself as there was a chance that Mike wouldn't make it through the hazardous treatment. There was also a strong chance that he might relapse, but there wasn't any other option available for the long term.
In February 2017 Mike was admitted into Addenbrookes Hospital and he had the bone marrow transplant. He had some nasty side effects, but at the end of March he was discharged. Even though he had some really horrible side effects which meant he lost a lot of weight, he seemed to be doing OK and we had started to think about the prospect of a future for the 3 of us.
He had a routine Bone Marrow sample taken in May 2017 and we received the results back a couple of weeks later. It wasn't good news. Mike had relapsed. The only option was for more Chemotherapy and we hoped and prayed this would work but we were told that we were clutching at straws. Mike went back into Hospital to receive this intensive Chemotherapy treatment. However, we were told at the end of July the devastating news that it wasn't working and Mike had days or weeks left to live as the Leukaemia was taking over. We were told to make as many memories together as we could and enjoy the time we had left.
We went on a trip to Wales to visit a Christian retreat centre in early August. Whilst we were travelling to Wales Mike became very poorly and he was suffering from severe headaches and sickness. He was also sweating a lot and had a fever. We never made it to the Christian Retreat Centre as we made the decision to travel back to Ipswich. There was a very strong prospect that Mike wouldn't survive the journey back.
Throughout the year when Mike was receiving treatment we were supported by the Hospice through one of their Community Nurse Consultants. We were so grateful for her visits as she was able to talk to us about the treatment Mike was receiving and also give us advice on various things. It really was invaluable. Mike made it clear that he wanted to be in the Hospice if he was to receive end of life care. He knew the care he would receive would be incredible.
We did make it back to Ipswich and Mike was admitted into the Hospice. He underwent some tests and he had sepsis. He received some treatment at Ipswich Hospital for the sepsis and then was readmitted into the Hospice again, where he was to stay until his death on 23rd August 2017, two and a half weeks after he was admitted. He died on what would have been our 8th Anniversary of being together as a couple.
The dedicated care which Mike received from the Hospice was incredible. He was respected and such dignity was shown even though it was his last days. I was able to stay with him every night as a bed was available for me in his room. Nothing was too much for the staff to ensure his wellbeing and comfort was put first and foremost.
This is why I want to raise funds for the Hospice so that they can continue to carry out their dedicated and valuable work for so many local people. Any support is always very much appreciated.