Hester had cancer for a very long time. First diagnosed and treated when she was 21, it disappeared for 9 years. 3 years ago it was found to have reappeared in her lungs, and to be inoperable. For 2 1/2 years it was stable and showed no appreciable changes. Life continued. Not normally, but Hester was fit and healthy. Very few people knew what was happening.
5 months ago, at the beginning of June, while Hester was jogging 2-3 times a week, she started to develop a number of symptoms which did not go away. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that the cancer in her lungs was growing and had spread to the lymph nodes in her chest and neck. The cancer was not treatable by most of the available options and chemotherapy had only a 20% chance of having any effect (that does not mean of "being effective"). She was fortunate enough to make it onto a drug trial that had the potential to specifically target the cancer she had with specific genetic features that her cancer also had. It could have been amazingly successful. However it was not. She had to stop the trial 3 weeks ago and continued to get worse at a frightening rate.
Ultimately the problem was not the cancer in her lungs. It was the cancer in her throat.
Hester died on Thursday 7th November at 3:56 pm UK time, 8 days before her 35th birthday. I was with her for the duration. Our 5 and 3 year old daughters were in the same building and had seen her shortly before, but were not present when she died.
I met Hester just over 9 years ago when travelling in Australia. After our journeys entwined travelling up the east coast of Australia, she joined me in my 1974 VW Camper van and we continued on around the entire perimeter of Australia, creating some of the most amazing memories for us both. We returned together and brought our camper van back with us, which remains with us to this day (and which will be used to transport her body to her funeral - so that she leaves me as she joined me).
We were married on 18th April 2008. Our first daughter was born on 5th August 2008. Our second daughter was born on 7th September 2010, and was just 5 months old when Hester's cancer was found to have returned. She will not be here to watch her beautiful and amazing daughters grow up.
Hester has time and again proven her dedication and passion for her beliefs, and has touched, supported and helped so many people throughout her life - I am finding things out about her now that I never knew while she was alive.
At the end, Hester spent the last week of her life in the Isabel Hospice in Welwyn Garden City. They did so much to alleviate her symptoms, and I saw her start to crave food and eat properly again, which I had not seen for over 4 months. Every single person at the hospice, staff and volunteers, were amazing throughout, helping Hester, myself and our girls, and I cannot start to express my gratitude to them all. Hester in turn touched many of their lives, and I know that there was a huge amount of sadness amongst everyone there when she died. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude, and hope that this can be a small start to repaying that debt.
Hester was an amazing person, and she will remain in our memories and hearts for ever. I just hope that we can help to make a difference to others in similar situations...