Last November our sister Judith was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, at 35 years old she had a loving husband and two amazing little children, Dexter aged 9 and Tabatha aged 7. Judith defied all odds and continued to fight, on July 20th she had her 36th birthday, and although we hoped she would live for many years to come, she sadly passed away and set off on her next great adventure 9th August 2018.
'If we love and allow ourselves to be loved…well, a person who loves is the most precious thing in the world, worth all the fortunes that ever were. That’s what you’ve taught me, fur face, and because of you I’ll never be the same.’
Dean Koontz, ‘Watchers’, 1987
A couple of years ago, my little sister Judith, sent this quote to me carved on a piece of wood (‘Watchers’ is my favourite book of all time). She’s always reminding me that I am loved and to constantly strive to get the most out of life. Although, nearly 10 years younger (and a little bit crazy – ‘we all are’) she is wise beyond her years and has always been there for me.
During the summer of 2001, we lost our lovely mother to cancer, when Judith was just 18 years old and the rest of us were in our twenties. We were all devastated but tried our best to come together and support each other, and although this was hard, we have always been a family.
A family that continues to love.
At points on her journey, Judith spent time at the Primrose Centre at the Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bromsgrove, Birmingham. In stark contrast to the hospital, Judith has received exceptional care both emotionally and physically and the palliative care team has done everything they can to make sure Judith is getting the best possible treatment. Whereas, Judith could be waiting for hours (once we waited for 8 hours) for pain medication at the hospital, at the Primrose her medication is administrated almost immediately, and when time is so precious this is an important and much appreciated service.
The ward itself emanated warmth and friendliness and gave Judith much needed respite during this time. The staff have been wonderful – so full of love and kindness – including the chef who brings her food. It has literally been a home-from-home for Judith and has been an essential element in helping her mental well- being. And for us, knowing that Judith was so well cared for, gave us the opportunity to spend time with her without the added worry of everything else.
The nurses treated my sister with the upmost respect and care and were always so courteous and loving – we can’t thank them enough for the way they treated her. Her doctor was an incredibly kind and compassionate man who fought hard to give Judith everything she requested, and we will always be grateful for this.
Without the Primrose ward Judith’s journey would have been very different.
Knowing, therefore, how essential this facility is I was very surprised to find the Primrose Centre and the Primrose ward at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bromsgrove are funded by charity donations and are not part of the NHS - it receives only 14.8% of its funds from the NHS ad must raise £1.75 million a year to keep going.
I can’t believe that it only exists through the continued efforts of those who choose to fund raise.
With this in mind, my brother and I have decided to raise as much money as we can to support this essential and life-changing facility.
We intend to walk the South-West Coastal path – the longest national trail in the UK, over the course of a year. A total of 630 miles. During this time, we hope to raise as much money as possible but also to raise awareness of the fantastic job that the Primrose does (and many other palliative care facilities around the UK – that are also charity funded).
During this time, we will update everyone with our progress and invite anyone who would like to support us to come and join us on our journey.
Ways to help:
• Join us on one of our walks (part or fully) and donate £1 for every mile you do!
• Donate to our just giving page – any donation (no matter how small) helps
• Support us by sharing our page to raise awareness of the Primrose Centre and ward at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bromsgrove – charity funded palliative care
• Join us one of our weekend walks and set up your own sponsorship to raise money for our just giving page
• Just join us on our walk – we know that cancer effects so many people, in so many different ways, and we not only want to support each other, but also to support everyone who has been through or is going through our journey.
• Come up with a cure for cancer (all types).
Each month we will spend a weekend walking the path and then end our journey with two weeks next summer (July – August) with shorter days (miles walked per day) to enable the children to join us for some of the walk. And end the journey on the will be on or around the 16th August 2019 at South Haven Point (Poole)
A full itinerary will be uploaded as soon as possible but we will update specific information monthly (e.g. times of meeting, miles per day)
The first leg of our journey:
Saturday 15th September: Minehead to Lynmouth - 21.4 miles
Sunday 16th September at Lynmouth to Ilfracombe - 18.6 miles.
Detailed timings to follow.