Make a lasting difference to cancer patients like Karen with a gift in your Will

As the first patient in the world to receive ‘acoustic cluster therapy’, an innovative new treatment at The Royal Marsden, Karen helped support this pioneering research. Her sister Julia shares her story and how Karen’s gift in her Will is helping fund future research.

julia and karen childs

Karen’s diagnosis and treatment

In 2013, my sister Karen was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Everything happened so fast after her diagnosis at A&E. She had an emergency operation the following day. It was a total and utter shock. Thanks to the incredible surgeons and their team, the operation went well. The relief was overwhelming – you go from thinking you are going to lose someone to having them there beside you.

Despite our optimism, the cancer had already spread to Karen’s liver. She began a course of chemo which was needed to shrink the cancer before surgery. Karen was so tough and resilient; she kept her head held high. She managed the side effects of chemo well and although she undoubtedly had fears, she retained her strength of spirit.

The treatment worked and the surgery was a success. It was beautiful to see Karen recover and be cancer-free for two years. That was her miracle time. She made the most of every day seeing family and friends, and enjoyed the buzz of London visiting art galleries, exhibitions and going to football.

Karen with family
Karen with family

First in the world on a clinical trial at The Royal Marsden

When the cancer came back, talk of clinical trials commenced. My sister always had faith that if something wasn’t working, they would find something else.

The team at The Royal Marsden were wonderful and filled her with support, humour and hope. She needed that hope. It was a difficult decision to go on the trial, but I remember thinking ‘we are in supportive hands – we are in the right place’.

When Karen found out she was the first in the world to try the acoustic cluster therapy treatment, it was worrying but also exciting to be a world first.

I was very impressed by The Royal Marsden. Karen decided to do publicity around the trial as she wanted to give back to the hospital.

The trial didn’t work for Karen which is devastating. But Karen had seven years that she never would have had after being diagnosed. You cannot put a price on that. To get seven years – she had such gratitude.

Bringing Karen home

For the last two years of Karen’s life, she came to live with me and my two sons in Hertfordshire. Karen embraced the peace and nature, and continued to enjoy going to music gigs, football matches and seeing friends and family.

She lived purposefully all through her cancer and retained an inner calm until her time came to an end. She endured it all with such grace and poise.

Karen’s lasting gift in her Will

Karen hoped that this new therapy may mean a gentler, kinder treatment through a targeted approach. It didn’t work in her lifetime, but she had hope for the future.

We were both so grateful to The Royal Marsden. Karen decided to leave a gift in her Will to the Charity as both a thank you and to give back to the future. She believed in The Marsden and was incredibly proud of it. And I am so proud of her – not just being the world’s first, but for everything she endured and what she believed in.

I am so glad Karen was able to fulfil her wishes and give back. I would encourage anyone to do this; it’s your opportunity to take control and give back – be that to family, charities and the important people in your life.

Karen loved life; cancer never changed that. I’m thankful her story lives on.

Karen’s gift will make a vital difference to the lives of cancer patients, long into the future. You can find out more about leaving a gift in your Will, our Free Will Service and how you can help make pioneering breakthroughs possible here. If you’d like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected]

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