Barry's Story- A star for my Wife

Barry names a star as a way of remembering his wife, Ann and to give back to the hospital.

Ann’s Diagnosis and Treatment

Ann was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. She was treated at The Royal Marsden in Sutton before being transferred to the Chelsea hospital as I had got a new job in the area.

Once all the treatment was finished, Ann would go every three months for check-ups and blood tests. Then it moved to yearly mammograms. It continued to be good news and we would always go out for a meal at a local restaurant to celebrate. This carried on for 10 years until she was signed off completely.

We thought life was back to normal, regularly going on holiday to Spain where we had bought a house, with the view of retiring there.

In 2011 we were in Spain on holiday, but Ann didn’t feel well. She knew instantly there was something wrong. Back at home, she was referred to hospital for investigations, and she was found to have excessive fluid in her lungs and a dark shadow.

Barry and Ann with family

Ann was referred back to The Royal Marsden in January 2012, where cancer in her lung lining was found. They believed that it could have been the primary cancer. She had a biopsy and agreed to be part of a research programme. Over the following two and half years Ann tried various drugs and treatments but in May 2014 she was referred to the palliative care ward at The Royal Marsden.

Amazingly she got to see our new grandson who was born in January 2014 and her youngest daughter marry in June, just three days before she passed away at home surrounded by all her family.

We name a star because it’s a way of remembering Ann at a difficult time of year and our way of giving back to this amazing hospital

Ann in a car

Taking part in Celebrate a Life

I could not fault The Royal Marsden with all their advice and treatment which is why I give something back. The nurses (I call them angels) were brilliant. At the hospital, everyone has such a positive attitude. Everyone there may have their own problems, but they leave them at the door when they care for the people that they are treating.

Celebrate a Life is a lovely event and it’s such a beautiful setting. I find it very uplifting and it gives me a sense of connection to Ann. I can see the room she had treatment in at Chelsea when I am at the carol service. I always look up and think that’s where she was.

I always look out for our star. One year I walked up to the tree and there it was, her name was right in front of me. We take part in Celebrate a Life because it’s a way of remembering Ann and our way of giving back. Ann loved Christmas, she was a big kid really and loved presents. I enjoy being there and celebrating other people’s lives too.