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Last August on our return from holiday, my wife Sarah told me she had found a lump on her neck. Following a visit to the doctor and subsequent blood test, which came back all clear, we set off for a week to walk part of the Camino de Santiago. We walked the 120km from Santiago to Finisterre with friends, a memorable and inspiring experience.
On our return Sarah had a number of other scans and biopsies, the result was one that would turn our world upside down for the next 6 months! I cannot put into words what it feels like to sit with someone you love so much whilst they are told they have cancer! Sarah had lymph, throat and thyroid cancer.
Following all the tears, telling friends and loved ones, more tears and wondering ‘why me’ I was determined we should tackle this together. So for 6 weeks we both went to St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford for Sarah to receive radio and chemo therapy. We had a couple of days off over Christmas and the treatment finished on New Year’s Day. Through the treatment Sarah’s taste buds disappeared, she stopped producing saliva, the pain was often unbearable and eventually the only food she had were shakes taken through a tube directly into her tummy. But Sarah was so brave, I never knew she had such strength and her determination to beat this disease made us all so very proud of her. The support we received from consultants and nurses could not be faulted, always positive, caring with a smile on their faces to greet us.
We knew going through the treatment would be a difficult time, however we were never prepared for how difficult it would be for the 2-3 months when the treatment finished. Initially for the first month Sarah slept constantly whilst her body started on its recovery, then she really struggled with being stuck at home, thinking about ‘stuff’ and got very down. I didn’t see a smile for weeks, I didn’t know what to say to her and felt helpless, everyone was on ‘eggshells’ around her. At this time the Fountain Centre came to our aid. We had walked past the centre everyday for 6 weeks, but Sarah had never felt a need to go in. However now was the time for her to speak to somebody other than friends and family, someone who could relate to what she had been through and was now going through. Thank goodness for these volunteers who give up their time to help others like Sarah.
Fast forward a couple of months and more tears, but tears of joy this time, when Sarah was given the 'all clear'. Such a massive relief and now is the time for her to concentrate on getting better. Every day she improves a little.
We couldn’t have done this without the help and support of all the volunteers at the Fountain Centre, so to thank them I am returning to the Camino de Santiago, where my eldest son Liam and I will complete the 260km pilgrimage from Porto to Santiago. It will be an emotional but memorable time, time for us both to reflect, whilst hopefully raising a minimum of £1000 in support of the Fountain Centre.
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