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Mark Smith avatar
Mark Smith

In loving memory of Catherine Smith

We are helping raise funds for St Raphael's Hospice because they were excellent in supporting our family

137 %
£8,001.00
raised of £5,800 target
by 250 supporters
Donate

St Raphael's Hospice

We offer specialist medical care to people with serious illnesses

Charity Registration No. 1068661

Story

Mum sadly passed away on 24/06/17 after a long hard-fought battle with cancer. We are trying to raise £100 for every year mum was alive in support of St Raphael's hospice who help so many families through such difficult times. 

Mum was first diagnosed with breast cancer over 10 years ago which she overcame after 2 years of intense chemotherapy. Mum was given the all clear 5 years later with no signs of the cancer returning. She had progressed at work during this time and her life was slowly getting back on track.  

It was 6 months after a family holiday to Thailand that mum started to complain of blurred vision and noticed bright lights when out shopping. After a trip to the GP she was sent for an MRI scan. The results confirmed our worst fear, mum had been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in the brain, liver and bones. Fortunately mum had access to BUPA through work which meant her oncologist could recommend the latest drugs to tackle the disease, although radiation was the only viable option to treat brain tumours. 

Mum was sent to the Cromwell hospital for expert Gamma Knife treatment, which accurately targets individual tumours as opposed to exposing the entire brain. This treatment was successful and all 6 tumours were neutralised. Mum continued to receive chemotherapy for the bones and liver, which her oncologist believed to be working, things were looking up. Unfortunately when mum went back for an MRI check up 3 months later it revealed new tumours had surfaced. Over the next 2 years mum would have 6 Gamma Knife treatments, all of which were successful in neutralising the cancer but new tumours would continue to come through every 3 months. Mum had a total of 160 tumours treated, a number her doctors had never treated on one person before. Her bravery and spirit meant she was able to reduce the number to 3 single tumours by Christmas 2015. The doctors were satisfied the tumours weren't aggressive and she didn't require radiation in 2016. 

Although mum had shown no effects of the treatment previously, the volume of radiation she had received did start to show in the summer of 2016. Her tongue became numb which made speaking difficult and for all those that knew mum well, you'd know she loved a good chat. Towards the back end of the year mum was unable to communicate via text as her sentences weren't coherent, her speech became difficult to understand and she lost the ability to do simple tasks like use the remote control. Mum then had a seizure whilst waiting to see her oncologist (another side-effect of radiation) and she spent a couple of nights in hospital. The seizure had taken a lot out of her, eating now became a lot harder and we were having to rely on a yes or no answer to gage what mum wanted to eat, drink etc. 

Mum continued to deteriorate over the Christmas period last year and the right side of her body became visibly weaker. Tasks as simple as opening a draw were now a challenge with her right hand, so we made an appointment for mum to see her oncologist the first week in January, as we were concerned her condition may become worse. Having had several tests and an MRI the doctors kept mum in overnight to wait for the results. The news was not what we had hoped for, mum had significant swelling on the brain causing the problems on the right side of her body. The recommendation at the time was full brain radiation to reduce the swelling, but this would mean mum losing her hair for a third time. Mum was able to communicate a defiant, 'yes', to giving the treatment a go. Over the next 4 weeks mum remained in hospital and the doctors continued to evaluate her progress. Her strength meant she was home in time for her birthday in February although still remained extremely weak. It wasn't until later that month that we realised the full extent of the problem, the treatment hadn't worked this time and there was nothing more they could do to help her. 

Mum's condition over the coming months deteriorated severely, she was unable to walk, talk, and liquid food had to be administered through a syringe. This is not how mum would have wanted her final months to play out, but she continued to fight with the love and support of her family around her each day. We made the decision to care for mum at home, but St Raphael's and the NHS nurses would visit mum each week to check up on her and the family. 

Despite her bravery and determination to keep fighting, mum sadly passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning surrounded by her family. She has been and will continue to be a true inspiration to everyone that had the pleasure of knowing her and her memory will live on forever. 

We love you Mum, our first friend, best friend and forever friend.  

RIP Mum X



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